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Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

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Mystery in the Park program

Teacher checklist


Buffalo Creek Reserve - 117 Pittwater Road, Hunters Hill

Wallumedegal Country

Google maps - Apple maps

Bus access

Supply bus driver with Buffalo Creek Reserve bus information.

No bus entry into Buffalo Creek Reserve carpark.


DoE $22 per student - GST free

Non-gov school cost $32 per student - GST free, minimum charge $600

Risk assessment

Risk management plan

COVID-19 safety plan


View the YouTube track overview videos.

Sugarloaf Point loop track


Participants will be bushwalking during the day in rugged terrain.

This excursion may not be suitable for people who have recently been unwell.

Toilets are only available at the beginning and end of the day.


Backpack, medication, low-waste food, water bottle, sunblock, raincoat, hat, sturdy shoes, mask.

Students wear reusable name tag and sports uniform.


Preparing for an excursion

Parent/carer helpers

Optional one to two parents per class, no siblings. Closed shoes essential.

Check COVID-19 restrictions.

Medical or special needs

Notify Field of Mars prior to excursion. 

Students, staff and visitors must not attend if unwell, even with mild symptoms. 

Extreme or wet weather

Days predicted to be above 35ºC, high winds, extreme bush fire danger and dust storms may result in the excursion being modified, postponed or cancelled. 


Cancellations with less than three school weeks' notice will incur a $500 administration fee. This does not apply to cancellations due to weather, fire danger or COVID-19 restrictions.

Suggested timetable for up to two classes


Classes A, B

9.45 - 10.30 Introduction, recess and toilets
10.30 - 12.00 Bushwalk and clue investigation
12.00 - 12.30 Lunch by the river
12.30 - 1.30 Evidence analysis and research
1.30 - 2.00 Presentations
2.00 - 2.15 Pack up, toilets and depart

Learning activities

Students follow clues to collect evidence and record digitally in the field, then analyse evidence and present their case.

Inquiry questions

  • What are the main prey species successfully hunted by foxes in this area of Lane Cove National Park?

  • What are the adaptations of foxes and of their prey? How are they related or connected?

  • What are the main species of prey successfully hunted by powerful owls in this area of Lane Cove National Park?

  • What are the adaptations of powerful owls and of their prey? How are they related or connected?


Setting the scene

The students will be given a real-life environmental mystery to solve - the discovery of animal remains in the reserve. Working in groups of four, the students will be challenged to deduce what animals could be the victim (prey) and villain (predator).

Groups will be formed, preliminary information provided, predictions made, skills taught and equipment distributed. Groups will plan their team roles and investigation methods.

Gather the evidence

With a focus on animal adaptations, the students will undertake a ‘clue-seeking’ quest through parts of Sugarloaf Point observing and collecting data on evidence such as scratch marks, droppings, fur, feathers, bones, etc. The students will be guided by cryptic clues relating to special locations in the bush. Students record their route and animal evidence observed using maps, notes and the camera app on iPads. 

Drawing conclusions 

The students will analyse and interpret secondary data provided by Field of Mars EEC and their collected or photographed evidence. They will research additional information using iPad apps and digital books, and use higher-order thinking skills to draw conclusions and provide explanations for their claims.

Presenting the case

Students will produce scientific arguments to discuss their findings and justify any inferences they make. 

Syllabus outcomes and content

Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus (2017)


A student:

  • plans and conducts scientific investigations to answer testable questions, and collects and summarises data to communicate conclusions ST3-1WS-S
  • examines how the environment affects the growth, survival and adaptation of living things ST3-4LW-S


Adaptations of living things


  • describe adaptations as existing structures or behaviours that enable living things to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)

  • describe the structural and/or behavioural features of some native Australian animals and plants and why they are considered to be adaptations

Planning and conducting investigations

  • select appropriate measurement methods, including formal measurements and digital technologies, to record data accurately and honestly (ACSIS087, ACSIS104)

Processing and analysing data

  • compare data with predictions

  • present data as evidence in developing explanations (ACSIS218, ACSIS221)

Other syllabus links

Learning experiences will also support but not explicitly teach the following content: 

Students process and analyse data and info by:

  • comparing gathered data with predictions, and using as evidence in developing explanations of events and phenomena (ACSIS218, ACSIS221, ACSHE081, ACSHE098)

Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017