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Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Observatory Hill Environmental Education Centre

Leading environmental education to empower learners for a sustainable future.

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S5 - Environmental Change and Management

Environmental change and management’ is a S5 Geography fieldwork excursion that focuses on human induced environmental change of marine environments. Students will specifically learn about the marine estuarine environment of Sydney Harbour and some environmental issues effecting it including climate change, stormwater pollution, foreshore modifications and the legacy of past industrial pollution. Students will participate in a series of hands on workshops at Clifton Gardens Reserve on Chowder Bay, Sydney Harbour. These workshops will enhance geographical inquiry in this topic.

Program location

Clifton Gardens Reserve, Chowder Bay Mosman

View the Google Fieldwork Map with approximate walking route, meeting location and pick up location. 

Key inquiry question

Describe the environmental features of Sydney Harbour? How are humans changing the natural environment of the Harbor and explain how these impacts can be effectively managed?

Key syllabus outcomes

Investigative study – Marine Environments.

Students will:

  • investigate the causes, extent and consequences of environmental change in the marine environment of Sydney Harbour.
  • investigate strategies for the management of environmental changes in Sydney Harbour's marine environment.

Integrating the ‘Sustainability’ Cross Curriculum Priority is a feature of the program.

Skills outcomes

Learning activities include:

  • taking part in a citizen science data collection activity to investigate the amount of micro plastics particles on Chowder Bay beach.
  • using water testing equipment to moniter the health of stormwater entering Chowder Bay.
  • taking part in an interactive activity to investigate Sydney Harbour's marine ecosystem.
  • modelling a variety of stormwater management strategies on Chowder Bay beach in groups and explaining these to the class.
  • acquiring, processing and communicating geographic information
  • examining topographic maps of the area to understand the relationship between landforms and stormwater runnoff.
  • field sketching
  • Developing Geographic Inquiry Skills including: Acquiring (what is where), Processing (why is it there), and Communicating (why care)
  • Answering a fieldwork question, " How are humans changing the natural environment of Sydney Harbour and describe management strategies that can improve the impacts of these changes".  

Student previsit and follow up activities

Successful fieldwork visits have direct links to current classroom learning. Pre-visit activities carried out prior to the excursion will help students better understand their excursion content and provide connectedness and relevance to classroom learning.

The following tasks, together with fieldwork, will help students answer the fieldwork question.

Students should view the pre-visit presentation on the excursion support website below to familiarise themselves with the fieldwork concepts and location: https://sites.google.com/education.nsw.gov.au/obhill-env-chng-mgmt/home

On the day activities

During the full day fieldwork excursion, students will:

  • acquire, process and communicate geographic information to answer a fieldwork question.
  • learn basic geographic tools of inquiry including mapping, field sketching, photo interpretation and water testing.
  • take part in a citizen science project to collect microplastic samples on the beach, to add to research on the causes, extent and consequences of microplastic pollution.
  • learn about Sydney Harbour's marine ecosystem.
  • model stormwater managment strategies on Chowder Bay beach in order to understand environmental management strategies .
  • test water in a local watercourse for pollutants, to appreciate the effects of stormwater on estuary health.
  • have opportunities to use their own cameras to document their fieldwork activities.

Please note; activities may vary depending on number of classes attending.


  • Government Schools: $15 per student  (GST Free)
  • Non-Government Schools: $25 per student (GST free). Minimum cost of $600.

Excursion program downloads