Python Hunters Cane Toad Madness Education Worksheet - Teachers Notes

Video highlights from Python Hunters

Upper Primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary

TELEVISION SERIES  
Python Hunters Australia

 

LEARNING TASK EPISODE 
Cane Toad Madness

 

LEARNING LEVEL   
Upper Primary, Junior Secondary, Senior Secondary

 

CURRICULUM RELEVANCE 
Science, Biology


PROGRAMME DESCRIPTION FOR TEACHERS
The python hunters – biologist Shawn Heflick; law enforcement officer, reptile breeder and conservationist, Greg Graziani; and designer reptile breeder, Michael Cole – share a particular enthusiasm for snakes. Hailing from Florida in the USA, the team is on a global mission to protect the planet’s snakes and other reptiles by ‘fighting the fear of the fang’. Their mission brings them to Australia, home to myriad reptiles, including 135 venemous snakes, and the python hunters are determined to see them all. On the final leg of their Australian road trip, Shawn, Greg and Michael meet up with a number of different local experts, who help them track down pythons and introduce them to the environmentally devastating cane toads. As a grand finale, the python hunters meet Bob Irwin, help rescue some endangered sea turtles and return a few back to the wild.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS
Though much maligned and feared throughout the world, reptiles are a vitally important part of our ecosystem. The python hunters travel to Australia as part of a worldwide undertaking to champion the cause of these widely unpopular creatures. The final leg of their Ozzie odyssey takes them to Rockhampton, where Justin Mahoney, a local venomous snake enthusiast, leads the python hunters to his secret snake-rich location. The team is appalled to find this mountain-base habitat devoid of spiders, skinks and ground-dwelling insects, thanks to an abundance of cane toads.

Introduced to Queensland in the 1930s to help control the native cane beetle  (Dermolepida albohirtum) from destroying sugar cane crops, the toad population has exploded to an estimated 200 million.

Cane toads have a devastating impact on all ecosystems outside their native Central and South America habitats. Releasing neurotoxic venom through pinhole openings in their skin, they kill predators almost immediately, and have wiped out many reptiles and other native animal and insect populations in northern regions of Australia.

In Cairns, the python hunters meet Danielle Williams, one of a number of reptile rehabilitators, who introduces them to three pythons in her care. All three have been wounded – two in machinery accidents and one by another python – and need basic help, including assistance with feeding, and a quiet place to recover. One is ready to be returned to its home in the mangrove swampland where it will continue to help control rats.

Lastly, the trio meet Bob Irwin, who has invited them to learn about his sea turtle rescue initiative. Sadly, beaches in prime turtle breeding areas are almost devoid of turtles, thanks to a lack of protection from 4WD vehicles and general negligence. Jennie Gilbert, a marine researcher, has been rehabilitating and tracking the decline of Australia’s sea turtles for the past 30 years. She believes a combination of ocean pollution and the destruction of the turtles’ sea grass habitats and breeding grounds has led these majestic sea creatures to the brink of extinction. We follow the team as they learn about the rehabilitation process, including MRI and CT scans at the local hospital, and finally rejoice in the release of two successfully rehabilitated turtles to their marine habitat.


CURRICULUM POINTERS
 

Upper Primary Curriculum
The science curriculum addresses the diverse needs of Australian students by providing them with scientific knowledge, understandings and skills to make informed and responsible personal, social, technological and environmental decisions that impact at the local, national and global levels and to participate, if they so wish, in science-rich careers.
Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Rationale

 

Junior Secondary Curriculum
The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to develop understandings about science and its processes, the scope of its contributions to our culture and society, and its applications in our daily lives.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

 

Senior Biology Curriculum
By studying the senior secondary Biology curriculum, students appreciate both the changing and expanding body of contemporary knowledge in biology, and the study of biology as an independent and collaborative human endeavour.
Australian Biology Curriculum 2010: Rationale
 

CURRICULUM OUTCOMES

 

Upper Primary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
• an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world in which they live
• an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
• an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims


Junior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will develop:
• an ability to communicate their scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, to justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
• an ability to solve problems and make informed, evidence-based decisions about current and future applications of science while taking into account moral, ethical and social implications
• an understanding of the diversity of careers related to science
Australian Science Curriculum 2010: Aims


Senior Secondary
In undertaking these tasks, students of Biology will:
• engage in communication of and about biology, value evidence and scepticism, and evaluate critically the scientific claims made by others
• solve problems, and make informed, responsible and ethical decisions when considering local and global issues and applications of biological concepts, techniques and technologies in daily life
• appreciate biology as both an independent and a collaborative human endeavour.

 

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