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Australia Adventure

Australia DSA - Final Thoughts

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Well, I’ve been home nearly a month now and I think I’m all caught up on my sleep and no longer "on the trip" in my dreams. As I’ve seen friends and family since returning home, I have enjoyed sharing with them my photos and adventures from “Down Under.” Anytime I am asked, “How was your trip?” I say the same thing…”It was amazing!” There is one question I always get asked that I never have an answer for, “What was your favorite thing?” I tell people that every activity we did was special and unique…picking just one favorite is impossible.

When you travel to another country, you want to see all of the great landmarks and attractions, and boy did we…We traveled along the rugged, yet beautiful coast of the Great Ocean Road. We played in the rain among the treetops at the Otway Fly. We witnessed the magnificent sunrise at Uluru. And we saw the rainbow of colors in the fish and coral on The Great Barrier Reef.

Not only do you want to see these sites, but you also want to meet people and become a part of the country's culture. From this adventure I will take away so many wonderful memories, not only of the sites we saw, but of the people we met. After this trip I am convinced that a country's people are what truly makes an adventure amazing. As I created this final blog post, I wanted to take some time to reflect on those special people we met in Australia.

Marion at the Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Park. Marion was one of the first Australians we met and she was anxious to welcome us…and put us to work. Shovels in hand, she lead us to Rita the Wombat’s enclosure where we got our hands dirty. It was great! She didn’t cut us any slack for just getting off a 15 hour flight…she had a job for us and that job needed to get done, even in the rain. Marion wanted everyone to get a fist-hand experience while at the park.

Bill and Jan at the Ooraminna Station Homestead. I felt like I was home the minute we arrived at the homestead. The hospitality of the Hayes family was amazing. They greeted us as we climbed off our muddy coach with huge smiles. I’m not sure if they were aware as to what they were getting into with our group. :o) Everyone at the homestead took us under their wing – helped us crack the whip, get our swags set up, shared the history of the station, taught us about the stars of the southern hemisphere, and even let us set up a geocache just out off their front porch! Each meal they were right beside us, sharing stories and tales. They did it all and we absolutely loved our stay…thank you Hayes family!

Cassidy is an Anangu gentlemen who, in the shadow of Uluru, shared stories and legends of his Aboriginal culture. With the help of his translator, John, we learned the true resourcefulness of the Aborigines. Using leaves from the native acacia tree, Cassidy demonstrated a glue-making process. He also gave us the opportunity to try our hand with native hunting spears. And finally, dot painting. Cassidy and John shared with us the important role dot painting has played in the culture and provided us guidance with our personal creations. We were truly fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend time with these two gentlemen.

Terry and Jacque on the banana farm. Could you think of a better way to start your day…lamingtons, tea, coffee, and on the farm!?!? We were greeted by a barefooted Terry, with iPhone in hand, who quickly whisked us off on the banana cart. As we toured the 600 acre farm, Terry shared stories, facts and jokes. His sense of humor reminded me of my late grandfather. As I reflected back on our time at the farm, I once again felt like I had been visiting a relative. I will say one thing Terry…you still owe me a banana! :o)

Dunken with Reef HQ and Orpheus Island. During our time at the aquarium and on the island, Dunken wore many hats: scientist, instructor, tour guide, tech support, concierge, alarm clock, and cheerleader with the consistent phrase, “Okay beautiful people.” Whatever you needed, Dunken was there! He made sure everyone was safe and enjoying their time learning about The Great Barrier Reef and the ocean in general. I believe that Dunken and his staff had a huge impact on the students which will lead them to make changes in their daily lives.

And last, but DEFINITELY not least, Amanda - our tour manager extraordinaire! I have never seen someone remain so calm and collected under such pressure. (She would make a great teacher!) When some students were feeling car sick, she sought out some ginger. When we couldn’t make it to the bush camp due to rain, she wrangled up a 4 Wheel Drive coach. And when an item was lost, she sent out the search party. Amanda made our trip amazing with all of her hard work and information…it wouldn’t have been the same without her.

Finally, I want to thank all of the amazing folks at Discovery Student Adventures and Discovery Education for giving my students and I the opportunity to take part in this amazing trip. We have come home from Australia with friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Orpheus Island - Australia

Friday, June 5, 2009

I just wanted to share a few pictures from our day on Orpheus Island. I didn't have my underwater camera housing, so everything is topside.

This was one of the days I was really looking forward to. It was the day that I could share a whole new world with my students - the underwater world. If you know me, you know I love scuba diving...the jury was out on snorkeling. I did enjoy our time in the water yesterday, but I think I will stick with diving.

The kids did an amazing job as scientists collecting all of their fish behavior and reef condition data. Is was fun watching them trying to keep track of one specific fish while counting the number of times it bit coral.

I learned that it's very hard to laugh with a snorkel in your mouth. Mrs. McGuire and I were buddies and she got VERY excited about some of the fish we saw.

Hanging out at the beach during sunset and finally getting to see some of the gorgeous Southern Hemisphere sky was another highlight of our trip to Orpheus Island.

Today we left the island and returned to HQ Aquarium where we were able to analyze our data. It was great to see all the information our group collected in tables and charts. This experience really gave students an opportunity to put their math and science skills to work. (We even did some graphing with bug bites and coral cuts!) I think there may be a few future marine biologists in the group.

I echo Mrs. McGuire - I really hope all of these students realize what an amazing opportunity this has been. Looking back over the photos we've taken, I can't believe all of the absolutely amazing things we have done over the last 12 days - it's incredible. We will be sad to leave Australia behind, but we are anxious to get back home to our families.

Swimming With The Fishes!

Yeah, I know... it's kind of an Italian term... but in this case it was REALLY cool!

I actually dove down and saw the fish! The underwater world is so beautiful! It's really amazing all the things that God put down there- hidden beneath the water! ...And the colors are AMAZING! I have loads of underwater pictures that I took with my camera!

I'll upload them later. It took a while just to write this page. The internet has been very slow. But it's so great to be able to share with you what we are doing!

I hope the kids really get the impact of this trip! To be able to swim in the Great Barrier Reef and study the fish and coral is really a gift! The kids got to collect data on two different types of fish (parrot fish and the butterfly fish) to see what kinds of foods they are eating in a 5-minute time segment. They also measured the ocean floor in 20-meter segments to see what kinds of coral are growing in those spots. They identified coral as: Hard corals (coral massive, coral branching and coral tables), Soft corals, Dead coral and algae, rubble, sand and algae. They did an amazing job! Today we took the data and put it in Excel to see what all that information looks like in graphs and charts.

I'll post my other pictures soon! Tomorrow we fly up to Brisbane to go to the Australia Zoo! The Pedwells and Maria Mead will be meeting us up there! I can't wait to see them! It's still a little surreal that I'm in Australia... and we only have 2 days left. It went by so fast!

I'm looking forward to getting home to my family! My daughter got asked out on her first date while I was away, and I want to get home to pick out a cute outfit (...but not TOO cute! Wink!)!

Mrs. McGuire

Discovery Student Adventures Dives Deeper Into the Great Barrier Reef

Thursday, June 4, 2009

G'day mates! It's Jannita again! No chance to upload photos to the album yet, but I did want to let you all know that we have surfaced from the Great Barrier Reef. I also posted a few pictures here. A truly surreal experience with giant fish and even bigger corals. While at the reef, students had to follow a Parrot and Butterfly fish... no easy task I assure you! After that they did ocean floor transect where they measured out 100 meters and swam along notating the health of the different types of coral. It was magical watching the students dive down and point out all the different types of coral we had learned about at Reef HQ... brain, honeycomb, massive, stag, vase, plate, soft... The colors were incredible... but was even more terrific was watching their snorkel covered faces surface and start giggling and recording their data. How did they do this?!? With clipboards, pencils, and special plastic paper of course :)
So... do you want to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef?!?! Check out this Discovery Education Assignment created just for you and your students!


OK! The moment you've all been waiting for! Our pictures of our amazing volcanic enriched powder for self tanning!
Sophie is busy sketching up our product lines! She's quite a good product manager!

We'd love to hear any ideas you may have on our new product! Any variations of the name? We're also thinking of a lip stain, henna-like staining, and seasonal collections!
We're also now working on a sunscreen made from bleached coral on Orphius Island! (Wink!)

Discovery Student Adventures Takes Lemons and Makes "SOLO"

Okay, so when I was packing for my trip to Australia with the Discovery Student Adventures team, I was imagining sunny skies and warm weather. So let's just say my suitcase was definitely not prepared for 50 degree weather and rain everyday since we arrived. But that's okay, because when you travel with Discovery Student Adventures and you have a fearless travel manager like Amanda, you take those lemon like situations and make SOLO, an Aussie version of lemonade that has become our Australian addicition. It could have been a normal drive into Bush Camp, but when the rain caused the roads to become too muddy and slick, Amanda transformed that route into a 4 wheel drive adventure... the bigger the puddles the more the kids hooted and hollered.

So here's a brief look at what we've done so far since arriving abroad only 8 days ago. Let's see if I can get this in one breath...

Landed after an 17 hour flight and headed straight to the Moonlit Animal sanctuary where we fed and walked among wallabies, cleaned Rita the wombat's cage and checked the fertility of sugar gliders. Nice scenic tour through Melbourne... very artistic place! A hike among the canopy of the Australia rainforest at Otway fly (screamed my head off when the kids shook the bridge) Took the "Great Ocean Road" drive, one of the top 10 drives in the world... watched what happens to CarolAnne when she has eaten too many lollies (candies) let's just say the call it the liquid laugh (but it's definitely not funny!) Had a behind the scenes tour of Healesville Sanctuary where kids got to witness a kangaroo autopsy (let's just say I stayed behind the glass and by the looks on the kids faces, I made the right choice!) Went shopping in the famous Victoria Market and enjoyed some local yellow kiwi (bought beanies, gloves, and a scarf as it is still freezing cold and rainy) Took a flight to the center of the outback where we had an overnight at the Ooramina Bush Camp... made bread, learned how to crack a whip, enjoyed a roaring campfire, and we slept in swags (an Australian sleeping bag type thing) An early rise and off to one of the most famous iconic Australian spots... know to some as "The Rock" other's as "Ayers" and officially as "Uluru" It's GIGANTIC. Met with Cassidy an Aboriginal who taught us how to make glue, throw a spear, told us stories in the sand, and helped us make dot paintings. Cooked our own dinner on the barbie. Woke up at O-Dark-thirty to watch the sunrise over Uluru. It did not disappoint and words don't do it justice! A magical moment for all! We saw our first glimpse of sun... but we are still bundled up... in fact they hit record lows today! Kids got to ride camels in the bush (laughed hysterically at their expressions) Took flight again to the northern shores.... officially threw jacket off as we hit the warm tropical weather... but guess what... still raining! Did I mention that we've seen rainbows EVERY DAY?!?! We are officially somewhere over the rainbow! Witnessed a croc feeding at Hartley's Crocodile farm and one of my trip highlights cuddled up with a Koala (they are VERY stinky and I decided not to sneak him in my bag) Watched where we stepped at a Banana factory :) Saw lots of banana trees and even helped packing a few, LOTS of mud, a terrific waterfall, the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life, and the BEST cream and lemingtons for morning tea. Headed toward the Great Barrier Reef and stopped for a picture with the world's largest Gum Boot for Eren. Enjoyed an Aussie burger... they put beets on them... it's fantastic! Reached Reef HQ and practiced snorkeling at Adrenaline Dive. Now the kids are down stairs at the Reef HQ learning how to identify fish and coral for their research expedition to Orpheus Island tomorrow.... insert long exhale here!

Can you believe all that in 8 days!Enough from me... go now to and read the kids and teachers AMAZING twitters and blogs. POST COMMENTS... they read them every night!

Now, go to and pick which adventure you want to go on next year. EVERY teacher needs to have this amazing experience with their students and where there's a will, there is a way!

So cheers to each of you and a giant G'day from Australia! Here's a sneak peak of what we've done so far!
-Jannita Demian

We Have Humidity!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Up until yesterday, I had never said, “I love the humidity!” We have truly enjoyed our warm, humid weather here in Northern Australia. After leaving the center we headed north to Cairns and made a stop at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm. We were treated to an amazing show and dinner. Along with the giant crocs, another one of the night’s highlights was the up-close visit with a koala.

We did have some rain this morning, but we were on the coach headed to the banana farm, so we managed to stay dry. And we were treated to several more rainbows…something else that has been as common as the rain.

Before hopping on the “banana bus,” we enjoyed some tea and lamingtons on the front porch of our hosts. On our way to the banana fields we stopped by a gorgeous waterfall. For me, the biggest surprise about the banana trees were the large, plastic bags covering the bunches of bananas. The bags protect the bananas from the sun and pests. They are different colors based on their stage of ripening.

We finally arrived at the packing building and the kids enjoyed playing in the water as the bananas were being washed. As you can imagine, there was a “small” amount of water that made its way out of the trough.

Back on the coach we headed south from Cairns to Townsville. It was exciting to meet the staff members at Reef HQ who will be working with us over the next few days. We got a quick tour of the aquarium and then headed over to the dive shop for a snorkel lesson. All of the kids did an amazing job and are ready for the Great Barrier Reef.

We will be learning more about this amazing ecosystem tomorrow and will venture out to the waters around Orpheus Island on Thursday where we will take part in a research project in conjunction with James Cook University. I am very excited to be sharing a passion of mine, the underwater world, with my students. Everyone is looking forward to the reef.

In The Shadow of Uluru and Aboriginal Culture

On day 5 of our adventure we were fortunate enough to be treated to two things. First we were set to learn about aboriginal culture from an expert. Second, we were to get our first site of Uluru (Ayers Rock). This was to be a welcomed change of scenery, or so we thought, since our previous location the Ooraminna Bush Camp was rained out. At the bush camp we missed out on one of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip and that was to get a lesson on the Southern Hemisphere night sky. While we were at the Bush Camp we were treated very warmly by Bill and Jan.

The Ooraminna camp was in a very remote area about 1 hour out of Alice Springs. While there we learned about the cattle farming industry and how herders lived. We also spent the night outside in our custom built swags (padding, sheets, sleeping bag, and pillow). Jennifer Jensen and I already had planned on doing some geocaching with the students while on this trip and we felt this was the best place for us to not go geocaching, but rather create a cache. So we set one up with a Discovery Education travel bug and the best part was explaining the whole concept of geocaching to Bill and Jan.And our final offer of appreciation for their wonderful hospitality was me giving my Discovery Educator Network hat to Bill so he could add it to his hat collection on the wall in the dining area.

Our drive to Uluru took almost 6 hours and took us across the desert landscape of Central Australia. The most fascinating thing of the landscape were the trees and that famous red dirt. I can certainly appreciate anybody who has been here and says that dirt gets on your shoes and does not come off. At this point since I have so thoroughly enjoyed this trip I am not so sure I want it to come off my shoes. I created a digital story about our day that is below:

Vol-Tan...Because You're HOT!

OK! The kids and I have discovered a brand new product, here in Australia. We've already put together a marketing group and are ready to roll on the sales! Let me know what you think!

In the rainforests of northern Australia, there is a very special banana plant. On that plant is a very special volcanic compound that makes an EXCELLENT self-tanner! Mixing the compound with fresh spring water, and applying it liberally and evenly will create a brilliant tan! It does not wash off in water (very easily), it's all natural, filled with minerals and exfoliating properties!

We tried it out in the midst of the banana plants, and it worked!!! Laura and I went from snow white to tropical tan in minutes!

Currently, the product development team is working on a special formula for men, as well as our seasonal line of tanning products! More to come on that later! But check out our tans!

You just have to have some! Our slogan is: Vol-Tan... Because Your HOT! This product will blow you away!

Have fun tanning!
Mrs. McGuire

It NEVER Rains in Central Australia!

Famous last words, eh? Well, "Plan B" turned out to be a WAY better plan! Plan "A" was to drive into Bush Camp and sleep out under the stars in Swags. However, it rained! Did I say rain?! I don't know if that's a strong enough word! It rained hard enough for all of the main roads to be closed! The police stopped us on the road and would not let us pass. Plan B was to hire a 4-wheel bus to pick us up and drive us out into the bush!

Whoo hoo! We had SO much fun! We fish-tailed down the road with a bunch of adventurous students joyfully screaming and giggling in the cab! Jannita hopped in the front and took pictures! The puddles we went over sprayed up and over our bus as we drove on! When we got to bush camp, the windows were covered in red mud, and globs of it were caked all over the side of the bus!

Once at camp, the kids made "damper"- a bread made out of flour and water. We had it for dinner, and "Oh boy!" ... It was delicious! Who knew?!

We tried our best to warm ourselves by the fire, but it was very cold. The kids got to practice whip cracking with Bill Hayes, the owner of the land! He was amazing! Then we headed up to camp to learn how to make up our swags. Ken asked if the sheets were 1000 thread count. Sally told him that there were about 1000 threads in the sheet! (I don't think that's what he meant!) It was pretty funny watching a bunch of city kids learn how to make a swag! I was right there with them, wondering if we'd survive the night in the rain!

After our campfire, we got snuggled into our swags. Now, I have to apologize to everyone I've ever said that I didn't like camping because we were actually comfortable and cozy! Now, after this post, of course I'll deny ever saying that! :)
But I think it was the best night's sleep we got so far! The air was very cold, but it was surprisingly warm in the swag.

My students Tweeted that I actually camped and my daughter, at home in the States, thought that I may had hit my head or something. Nope, I didn't hit my head! It was just a very pleasant surprise! (And just so you know, I'd be HAPPY to camp... in Central Australia... in a swag again! ... but only under those conditions!)

Here's to more surprises!
Mrs. McGuire

On The Road To The Fly

Monday, June 1, 2009


As our student adventure continues and we become more acclimated to the time, climate, food, and Australian slang terms (this is the best part) our experiences are having more of an impact. On our second day here we had the privilege of taking a drive on one of the top drives in the world. We were heading to the Otway Ranges and we went along the Southern Australian coast to get there. The road we took is known as The Great Ocean Road.

This road was built by Australians after WWI and during a time of economic depression provided many with desperately needed jobs. The took about 15 to construct and was built using dynamite, pick axes, and shovels. The road takes you along the southern coast of Australia and is quite windy in many sections. We were provided with lots of historical information about this area and the road itself by our travel manager Amanda. In many sections of the road we were told that there have been fires during periods of drought that have destroyed the landscape, including the great bush fire of 1983 (Also called Ash Wednesday). We were also treated with many spectacular panoramic views of the varying coastline. One of my favorite views is capture in the picture below

Upon our arrival to Otway the first order of business, besides lunch, was for the students to learn about the types of trees that are in the area. The best part was the students all were going to plant two different trees. The two types of trees they planted were Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech. We had a fantastic guide during our time at Otway, his name is Peter. He shared a many great things about rain forests, climate change, the cyclical environment of the rain forest, and the impact rain forests have on our environment. One of our students, Sophie Bridges, had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview of Peter which is below.

The most important theme for the day was the emphasis of the interrelated nature of all the things in the forest. So for example: tree leaves drop water to the ground in areas that its' roots can get the water, water helps the trees grow (in addition to photosynthesis), the leaves also hold enough moisture that evaporates into the atmosphere that condenses and turns to rain, which in turn drops down to the leaves, and the cycle begins again. This is but one example of not only why trees are vital to a rain forest, but also how interrelated things are in the rain forest.

Can you think of other ways in which the rain forest is beneficial and vital to our environment?

Australian Sunrise

Phenomenal, amazing, gorgeous, beautiful, spiritual, inspiring…

I’m not sure there are really any words to describe this morning’s experience at Uluru.  We had been disappointed the night before due to the fact there was no sunset on the rock.  Everyone was holding out hope for this morning and we weren’t disappointed.

The morning of course started out like all of our mornings - cloudy and overcast…even had a little drizzle.  (Drizzle – something else that rarely happens in Australia.)  Just as we were getting ready to leave Uluru, the sun peaked through the clouds.  I think the photos speak for themselves.  It was a morning we will remember forever.

Lemonade in the Outback

Turning lemons into lemonade…an expression I have heard a number of times on our trip. We've encountered several instances where we’ve had to make a few modifications to our daily itinerary or purchase necessary supplies. Saturday was an instance when most people would have thrown in the towel, but our travel manager Amanda did an amazing job of saving the day.

On average, the Outback around Alice Springs averages 10 rainy days a year and we managed to visit on one of those days! Our motor coach wasn’t going to make it down the roads due to the rainfall, so they arranged for a four-wheel drive coach to come and take us to the Ooamainni Camp.

We had the good fortune of taking the “back” roads which provided us with an amazing adventure.

Seeing the Outback from this perspective was a real treat. The contrast between the deep, red soil and the green of the vegetation was beautiful. We had a great time slip-sliding our way to the station/camp.

Had we actually encountered the “typical” weather of the Outback, we wouldn’t have had this unique opportunity to venture through the back roads that most people never see.

The Autopsy

Friday, May 29, 2009

OK, First, how gross that I'm even writing about an autopsy!  But the kids loved it!  
Today, we visited Healesville Sanctuary.  Part of the sanctuary is dedicated to the protection and healing of injured animals.  Many animals are shot and killed by farmers that are trying to keep them off of their crops.  And many are hit by traffic and other accidental causes.  

This day, the vet had a kangaroo that was killed several days ago.  The autopsy room has one glass wall so you can watch what is going on.  The kids were invited to either stand behind the glass, or actually join the vet IN the room!  Many kids started off in the room, but only 4 remained in the end.  Duggan was one of them!  (I would have never guessed that he would have stayed till the end!)  

I stayed on the outside... then migrated to the hallway as things progressed.  Autopsies are not my thing!  I already lost my cookies once during this trip and
 I was not about to go for round 2!  
When the vet pulled the kangaroo out of the bag, the kids in the room immediately covered their noses with their hands, shirts, (anything they could grab quickly)... we could almost smell it just by watching their reactions!  The ladies from the sanctuary were standing out in the hall trying to convince me that I would love to watch... ha!  That's funny!  The "cutting" part of the kangaroo was facing away from me... that was a good thing!  So, from my perspective I got a great shot of the kids expressions!  That was enough for me!  

At one point, we heard Duggan and Anson talking about Thanksgiving dinner in the room!  Thanksgiving?!!!  Were they crazy?!  

We also watched a great Birds of Prey show!  (Thank God there were no more post-mortem shows to watch!)

After the sanctuary, we all got back in the bus to catch the last hour of the Queen Victoria Marketplace!  It is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere!  Shopping!  NOW we're talking!  We shopped our little hearts out in an hour!  Mostly, we were looking for warm clothing!  We didn't plan very well on how cold, and wet, it was in Australia.  Between the kids in our group, we shopped at speeds of up to $40 an hour, with gusts up to $75!  We all got Australia jackets to match!  We'll be wearing them on our next outing!  

It's about time I catch up on some sleep.  We have an early morning tomorrow... breakfast at 5:30 AM.  It's then off to the airport for an early flight to Alice Springs!  We are all looking forward to Ayers Rock, a walk-about and our camel ride!  

Mrs. McGuire


Driving in Australia

G'Day Mates!

This sign is posted everywhere! I suppose it's to remind visitors (like us) to drive on the correct side of the road! I do have to say, it was a little strange to drive on the left, but you get used to it. The only time it's really crazy is when you make a turn! It catches us every time! We've stopped making audible gasps, but it's still pretty funny!

One of the signs that cracks us up is the sign of Kangaroo Crossing... underneath the sign it has a number to call for injured animals. The kids wanted to know if the kangaroos knew how to use phones! Ha!

Keep writing in our blogs! Every morning, when we get on the bus, I read all of your posts to the kids! They always get really excited when they hear from home! But it's especially exciting to hear from those of you that they don't know! Keep it up! We LOVE hearing from you!

Mrs. McGuire

In the Trees

Thursday, May 28, 2009

(This blog post was a group effort. All the Colorado students collaborated to create the post.)

There was a spiral road that never seemed to end. After three hours on the bus, one of our teachers even got sick. (And no – it was not Mrs. Jensen.) On the way to the rainforest we got to see our first wild koalas in the trees along side the road.

After arriving at Otway Fly, it was fun getting our hands dirty as we each planted two trees, one Myrtle Beech and one Mountain Ash.

The Mountain Ash tree is the second largest tree in the world. It can grow up to 150 meters in height. You can tell how old a Mountain Ash tree is by measuring its diameter at about chest high. For every centimeter it is one year old.

The moss grows on the south side of the trees because it avoids the sunlight. This was surprising to us because back home it grows on the north side of trees.

Some of the trees in the rainforest are shaped like a boomerang because another tree has blocked its sunlight. It curves to find the sunlight. This movement of the tree was interesting. The aborigines would make their own tools out of trees, mollusk and kangaroo tail.

We also learned that there are lots of threats to the rainforest including people cutting trees. In just one minute about 10 regular-sized football fields of Amazon rain forest is cut down. Realizing how much forest this actually is, it seems that it could all be destroyed in a matter of years. Without our rainforest, we would have less oxygen and water…both are necessary for life. Yesterday we learned about many endangered frogs. They are endangered because their habitat is being destroyed, due to deforestation.

We walked up the Otway Fly, which was 47 meters high. We got to see a great view of the rainforest below. The rainforest gets 2 meters of rainfall a year. While in the rain forest we got to drink some of the fresh creek water. We were surprised at how clean this water was.

Our second day in Australia was successful. Although it was raining most of our time in the “rainforest” we were still able to soak up some great information along with all the water.

(Mrs. Jensen has more detailed posts on her Everyday in a Photo Blog -

Melbourne and the Moonlit Animal Sanctuary

Upon our arrival to Melbourne, Australia our fully loaded itinerary jumped into high speed.  We spent a portion of our first morning here touring the great city of Melbourne.  We learned many cool things about the city.  Among the many things we learned are that there is loads of art around the city and the architecture is as wide a variety as the culture here.  One of the buildings that I found of particular interest was the Flinders Street Station.  I was able to capture a number of photos of this great building.  Below is one of the photos I was able to get

After our seemingly brief tour of the city (I would like to return at some point) we headed out to the Moonlit Animal Sanctuary.  There the students learned many things about the animals in Australia, their habitats, their behavioral characteristics, and the effects of environmental change on them.  We learned many interesting things about the animals in Australia.  One student, Lulu, had the opportunity to interview one of the animal managers at Moonlit.  The interview is below. 

So I will close this posting with the following questions for the readers:

What percentage of animals in Australia are mammal?

Of this percentage what is the percent of mammals that are also marsupial?

And finally what percentage of the animals are nocturnal?

Feel free to post your reply in the comments section or even better see if you can get one or more of your students to research the answers to these questions.

Note: We learned the answers to these questions during our time at the animal sanctuary

The Rainy Rainforest

I'm here with my four students and we are going to share with you all about our wonderful day in the rainy- rainforest!

Duggan- The Aboriginals used to make axes and shields out of blackwood. I thought it was cool how they would put it in a fork of a tree branch and would wrap it with use thin tree bark as string to tie it up. They did this so the ax would be secured to the handle. They also made plaster out of shells and tree sap to secure the handle in place. I learned that you can drink the rain water and water from the creek. We got to taste it, and it was way better than our water in California. When we got to the rainforest, we planted two trees: Mertle Beach and Mountain Ash. The Mertle Beach was around when the dinosaurs were here! The Mountain Ash will be the world's tallest tree.

Alec- Peter, our guide, told us that the Mountain Ash will be the tallest tree in the world. (Right now, the California Sequoia is the tallest!) The Otway Fly is 47 meters tall and when they built it they had to remove all the small plants on the forest floor. This was 5 years ago, and now- you can't even tell that the plants are fairly new. We planted Mountain Ash and Mertle Beach trees. We saw a lot of rainbows today. The Ocean Road was a great view to the ocean. Australia was discovered in the 1840's and today, you can STILL find Aboriginal tools laying in the forest! The air in the forest was very fresh, clean and new!

Kennedy- Today was a beautiful day. We planted two trees today: The Mertle Beach and The Mountain Ash. We got our hands dirty!!! After we planted our trees we took a very long walk into the rainforest. We learned about all different types of trees and how they grow and form. When we got deeper into the forest we went up the Otway Fly about 47 meters above forest level. (That's about 155 feet.) That was a scary part for me because the kids were shaking the bridge and I almost cried ... many times! The hike was long, but it was nice. It was very soothing and relaxing. I learned that moss only grows on the south side of the tree because it doesn't like direct sun light. The Mountain Ash will soon be the tallest tree in the world.

Tyanna- I was in the Otway Rainforest and it was the first rainforest I've ever been in. We went on a high bridge (almost 155 feet tall) and we saw the second tallest tree in the world. We learned that the Aboriginals used the rainforst for their medicine, protection, and food. They have trees in the rainforest that curved like boomerangs because of the conflict between trees trying to find the sun light. We planted two trees: Mertle Beach and Mountain Ash. They said that when we are 99 years old and come back to Australia we would have a really tall tree! I really liked the moss on the trees. It grows on the south side of the tree because it doesn't like direct sun light. The conflict between endangered frogs and humans is that humans are destroying the environment from climate change. The frogs are dying because of climate change and their natrual habitats being taken away. We drank from a river. It was so clean and fresh! It was WAY better than the water we get from the grocery store! It was kind of sweet!

Mrs. McGuire- The day started with a very long drive up Ocean Road. It probably would not have been quite so long a drive, but before we hit the ocean, we hit the candy store. Now, I haven't had candy is a while... and (yes, I admit) I ate more candy than I should have. And when we hit the windy road... I lost it all! The Aussies said that I had a "liquid laugh"... all right... but it WASN'T funny at all! We actually saw Koalas in the trees along the ocean! What a view! Ocean Road is one of the 10 most beautiful drives in the world!
The Rainforest was amazing! First, it RAINED! Imagine that! This time, we were prepared with rain jackets! We saw so many rainbows in the past few days!
The kids all planted trees and we took a VERY cool hike on the Otway Fly! Holy Smokes! It was so high! And when we got to the end, the kids had fun shaking the bridge! It freaked out some of the girls, but we all survived!
I'm waiting for my Blackberry to be fixed. Until then, I have limited access to you all! I can't wait to get my phone fixed so we can keep in touch!
Tonight we had dinner at Observation Deck in Melbourne! I took some really cool photos of the city! We lucked out and got a very clear night, despite the heavy rain today!
We'll write again tomorrow! For now, we're all exhausted, but will sleep with smiles on our faces remembering a very exciting day!

Mrs. McGuire

Airport Olympics

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When we were training our travel leaders to prepare them for their trip to Australia, we had a section of the training called "Airport Olympics". I would like to say that I give our students and teachers a perfect 10! All the students and teachers are safe in Melbourne, and they all survived the longest plane ride of their lives.

I was lucky enough to meet Travel Leader Jennifer Jensen, her students and their families at the Denver airport. The parents all looked so proud of their children and just as excited as well. (You can view pictures in the photo library.)

The students I met are just perfect for Discovery Student Adventures. They all are outgoing, friendly are definitely ready for new expereinces.

From left to right in this picture: Sarah, Shea, Ashlee, Mrs. Jensen and Tyler.

The flight from Denver for these 5, was an hour delayed. The plane landed at LAX a little under an hour before the flight to Melbourne. The students and Mrs. Jensen ran all the way to the check in counter, were rushed to the front of security and made the flight with only minutes to spare. The rest of the students that were on the flight had been told that the Denver group wasn't going to make it - so I am sure they were in for a surprise to see them!


On Our Way!

Monday, May 25, 2009

We just had a homemade spaghetti dinner at my parent's house! Mmmmm... Mom makes the best pasta EVER!

We had last minute checks and were wondering if we will need heavier coats. From my iPhone, it looks like the temperature in Melbourne is 54 F. at the high.

Bobby is loading up my iPod with movies and music. I'm wondering how we will all do on a 17 hour flight! I just hope we all get some sleep!

Here we come!
Carol Anne

An Early Welcome From Melbourne!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hello Fellow DSA Adventurers!

I have arrived in Melbourne and am anxiously awaiting your arrival! Final preparations have been made, everyone is excited and waiting for your flight to land!

This is where you will find your welcome crew on Wednesday!

Also, let me introduce a key person to our upcoming adventure, our Travel Manager Amanda! Amanda has traveled the world over (I believe her country count is now over 40) but is originally from the Melbourne area and currently living here, enjoying this wonderful area and loving being near her family again. Amanda truly has a "Discovery" spirit, believing that often, the experience is the best reward for doing anything. She will keep us organized, on track, up to date and just be a great deal of fun along the way. She can't wait to meet you all and can't wait to show you Australia, her country, a country that all her travel has made her love even more. She truly loves introducing people to this amazing place, and just can't wait to begin showing it to you! Hi Amanda!

This is how you will see her most of the time during our trip - lanyard on, cell phone in hand to call all our contacts and keep the mechanics of the trip going smooth, and a big welcoming smile!!

Met someone else today who can't wait until you arrive - Rita, a very rambunctious wombat who has been very naughty and thoroughly ruined her enclosure. She can't wait for some helping hands to get it all ready to go again, with some definite improvements in the landscaping! I would post a picture, but all it would be is some grumbling snores coming from her hollow log - I caught her when she was too tuckered from her attempts at being a bulldozer to be bothered with posing for blogs....

Can't wait until you get here!!! Hurry up, don't you know it's already Monday in Australia and you are supposed to be departing?! :)

Catherine, Amanda and Rowdy Rita

An Aussie Adventure

Well, the official countdown is less than 24 hours least until we begin our journey from DIA.  Today I was finishing up the conversion of DEstreaming videos, doing laundry, and purchasing a few last-minute items.    (I've left the house cleaning until tomorrow.)

Over the course of the last week, people kept asking me if I was excited and ready for the trip.  I would always say excited...just not ready.  I had so many other things to do that I sometimes didn't even realize that I was actually going on this incredible trip.  As I blog tonight and begin putting items in my suitcase, it's finally hit me...I'M GOING TO AUSTRALIA!!!

When I had my students set up their blog, I asked them to create their first post.  I enjoyed reading their thoughts and feelings prior to us leaving.  Reading what they had to say raised my excitement level.

I look at this trip as a chance for me to "Pay it Forward," just a couple of decades after the fact.  Growing up I was activlty involved in 4-H Wildlife.  With the help and support of my parents, I did some amazing projects.  These projects helped me earn several amazing trips:  backpacking in the CO Rockies with the National Wildlife Federation, horse-packing through the lambing grounds of bighorn sheep, and helping scientist trap and band geese in Canada with Ducks Unlimited.  The memories of all these trips remain with me today.  I am truly excited that I have been given the opportunity to provide four students with the chance to create the same type of memories.

I want to thank Discovery Education and Discovery Student Adventures for this amazing share a new culture, country and continent with my students.


High Alert?!

Melbourne is on high alert for travelers coming from the States. They have set up thermo screens to see if anyone is running a temperature... bringing in the flu to Australia!

This should be interesting!

On a side note, I was told that we need to try bush tomato chutney and banana jam! Sounds yummy! I was also told that Kangaroo meat is good... hmmm... we'll see about that!

Less that 24 hours from now we will be on our way to the airport! I'm going to spend a quiet night with my family!

See you down under!
Carol Anne

Packing Up!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Well, I got a new rolling duffle bag today for the trip... after taking back two of them!  I opted for one with lots of pockets and sturdy wheels.  We are limited to 35 pounds.  Yikes!  I think I have 35 pounds of camera equipment!  (Just kidding!)  

Now we're just making sure that all the kids have their blogs up and going, and are all following each other on Twitter!  They're having a blast with Twitter!  :)  

Tomorrow, after church, I'm going to get a pedicure with my two girls and my Mom.  (You gotta have cute toes!)  Hmmm... what color should I get this time?!

I think I've read every book I can get my hands on about Australia.  I've called every friend I have in the country to see what we need to bring.  But because we'll be in so many different climates we're packing a little bit of everything!  

I still can't believe this is really happening.  I already miss my family!  

We're all looking forward to hearing from you all on the trip, so don't forget to write!  

Carol Anne

The Land uʍop ɹǝpun

Friday, May 22, 2009

As I write this posting I am beginning to sense the excitement and anticipation of my students going on this awesome trip with me.  This is the first time I have ever traveled with students and while I have had a desire to travel with students before now, this is the perfect scenario.  We are heading to the land down under, also known as Australia.  I am very much looking forward to all the wonderful things we will learn and experience.  Our itinerary is quite extensive and how we will manage all that fun will be the most challenging and welcoming part.  In fact our itinerary can be found here.

I have had the fortunate opportunity to travel to many countries and this will be my first trip to Australia.  One of the things I look forward to doing is capturing and sharing our experiences with lots of photos, more blog postings, videos, and podcasts.  Most of our content will be published or linked on this blog.  We also have twitter accounts set up so I will be posting to twitter here.

As the trip fast approaches I am hopeful that many of my friends and fellow educators around the world will encourage their students to follow along virtually with our journey and participate in our learning by adding comments to our blog postings, adding questions about things we are learning, postings comments on our twitter feeds, and perhaps creating digital stories with the photos we publish.  If you have a specific request for content, by all means let us know.  Also if you are an educator reading this and you are not part of the Discovery Educator Network now is your chance to take that next step in growing as a professional.  The link to the DEN can be found here.  Also if you have an interest in perhaps taking an adventure trip with a lucky group of students there is no better group to work with than the Discovery Student Adventures.  They can be found here.

And so with that I leave this posting with a few Australian phrases that I will be sure to use while I am there.

Away with the pixies  = Daydreaming

Bush = Land outside of the city

Good on ya = Good for you

Who can tell me what "Didgeridoo" means and post a little history about it?

Welcome to the Blog

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Welcome the the Discovery Student Adventure's Australia Trip Blog. Check back for frequent updates from the teachers and students traveling on this pilot program.