Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre logo

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

Experience Engage Enable

Telephone02 9816 1298

Human impacts and introduced species program

Teacher checklist


Field of Mars Reserve, Pittwater Road, East Ryde

Wallumedegal Country

Google maps - Apple maps

Bus access

Supply bus driver with Field of Mars Reserve bus information

No bus entry into Field of Mars Reserve.


DoE $25 per student - GST free

Non-gov school cost $35 per student - GST free, minimum charge $700

Risk assessment

Field of Mars Reserve risk management plan

COVID-19 safety plan


View the videos of the tracks

Buffalo Creek Track

Doyle and Warada loop track


Participants will be bushwalking for up to 1km on rocky tracks with some uneven steps.

This excursion may not be suitable for people who have recently been unwell or who have significantly limited mobility.

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

Please contact the centre to discuss the needs of participants with limited mobility.


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

There are no shops.

Student devices

Students are required to bring their own mobile device for photography and data collection. They must have the Google Sheets app downloaded prior to the excursion.

Download Google sheets: Google Play - App Store

Please contact the centre if your school has a no-phone rule.

Essential viewing for students

Preparing for an excursion

Fieldwork information and skills video playlist

Note: Watch these videos in the week before the excursion. Videos 7 - 11 are particularly useful.

Essential resources

Student worksheets

Student resource website (Google site)

Supporting resources

Student resources (Google drive folder)

Fact sheets  for relevant animal and plant species.

Teacher programming folder with resources, quizzes, worksheets and assessment ideas.

Bin access

Bins are only available at the start and the end of the excursion. Students must take responsibility for their own waste at all times.

Medical or special needs

Notify Field of Mars staff 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.  Weather forecast


Cancellations with less than four school weeks' notice will incur a $500 administration fee. This does not apply to cancellations due to weather or fire danger.

Suggested timetable

The suggested timetable is suitable for up to two classses. Schools with three classes may need to split into two large groups.



9.45 - 10.15 Introduction (in Field of Mars EEC classroom)
10.15 - 10.30 Recess
10.30 - 10.45 Select equipment and travel to sites
10.45 - 12.30 Sites 1 and 2 (see map below)
12.30 - 1.30 Sites 3 and 4 (see map below)
1.30 - 2.00 Lunch
2.00 - 2.15 Management and conclusion  (in Field of Mars EEC classroom)
2.15 Depart


This excursion program is an adventurous, engaging day of hands-on fieldwork that covers content from Module 4 of the NSW Stage 6 Earth and Environmental Science syllabus.

Students will:

  • collect primary data and information at two sites using a range of quantitative and qualtitative survey methods

  • investigate the direct and indirect biotic and abiotic effects of several introduced species such as lantana, small-leaved privet, red fox and Peruvian water-primrose

  • investigate the effectiveness of current and past management/control strategies used by the City of Ryde and other governmental agencies.

Inquiry questions

The fieldwork activities have a strong focus on the syllabus skills for working scientifically.

The inquiry questions that guide this fieldwork plan are:

  • What are the effects of introduced species on the environments in the Field of Mars Reserve?
  • How have human activities allowed the spread of these introduced species?
  • How can the effects of introduced species be controlled and mitigated in the future?
  • What methodologies and data sources are required for a valid and reliable survey of the introduced species at the Field of Mars Reserve?

The map below outlines the activities conducted at each fieldwork site visited in the program.

Site 1 is a weed-free Eucalyptus forest with a heavily eroded track.
Site 2 is a dense thicket of weeds with only a few native trees emerging above the weedy canopy.
By using the same fieldwork methods and equipment at both sites 1 and 2 and carefully collecting/processing quality data and observations the students are then able to effectively compare and contrast the two sites, with a particular emphasis on how the sites differ due to the effects of introduced species.

Site 3 is the site of an old landfill that is being rehabilitated. At this site students examine a fox den, bush regeneration zone, and community planting area as well as learning about the impacts, control and management of local introduced species such as the red fox, lantana, privet, trad (wandering Jew), Madeira vine and more.

Sites 2B and 2C are alternative sites that may be visited and studied by request ,in place of sites 1 or 2. At these sites students learn about the priority management weed Peruvian water primrose.

Sites 1 and 2 are where most of the hands-on work occurs. Students work co-operatively in groups of two or three. Each group has their own bag of fieldwork instruments and other tools. 

Biotic factors surveyed include fauna evidence, forest structure, canopy cover and identification of dominant plant types – weed or native.

Soil factors surveyed include soil profile layers, parent material, soil texture, pH, moisture, colour and temperature.

Abiotic environmental factors surveyed are numerous and use instruments including hygrometers, compasses, clinometers, light meters and anemometers.

Students record their data and observations in two ways – first using their own worksheets and second using a shared online spreadsheet which they all access on their phones using the Google sheets app. This streamlines data collection, processing and analysis (and allows the teachers to spot and correct errors and suspicious data outliers as they occur)

Students identify and discuss issues with the survey method's validity and data reliability. This discussion includes explicit examples of different types of error and bias and strategies to minimise these.

Note: To get the most out of these activities your students need to watch these videos in the week before the excursion. Videos 5 - 11 are particularly useful.

Syllabus outcomes and content

Stage 6 Earth and Environmental Science (2017)

Module 4 Human impacts 


A student:

  • develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation EES11/12-1
  • designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information EES11/12-2
  • conducts investigations to collect valid and reliable primary and secondary data and information EES11/12-3
  • describes human impact on the Earth in relation to hydrological processes, geological processes and biological changes EES11-11


Effects of Introduced Species

Inquiry question: 

How do introduced species affect the Australian environment and ecosystems?


  • outline the biotic and abiotic effects of introduced species
  • conduct an investigation into a local introduced species, including:     
    • reason for introducing the species
    • biotic and abiotic effects of the species
    • area affected by the species
    • human impacts that favour the introduced species
    • control or mitigation methods
    • economic impact of the species
    • different views about the value of and/or harm caused by the introduced species, including the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples 

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