International Student Trips Powered By Discovery Education
Australia Adventure

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.