In 2019 at Silverton, we worked hard to increase the biodiversity of our school grounds.

Starting the very first week of Term One students took part in scavenger hunt to gain an awareness of the plants and animals already living in our school grounds.

Students worked in teams to find the four floral emblems that represent our sport house teams; melaleucas, acacias, banksias and grevilleas. They searched the vegetable garden for basil, tomatoes, eggplants and grapes. In silence, they crept amongst the perennial flowerbeds patiently looking for insects and were rewarded with sightings of the illusive blue-banded native bee and the more common brown butterflies and white cabbage moths. Students scoured the trees looking for native birds and collected letters to crack the biodiversity code. Grade Five/ Six students carried out our annual biodiversity survey noting an increase in new plants.

Throughout the year students learnt about companion planting, how to make seed raising mixture grew seeds for our vegetable garden and discovered the importance of bees and other pollinators. They investigated the role of our creeks and beaches and did projects on endangered shorebirds and animals.

In Term Three, our new chickens arrived and soon made themselves at home in their fox proof enclosure. They spent their days wondering around the vegetable garden and quickly became use to being fussed over by our chicken monitors who by the end of their one- week stint became expert chicken handlers.

Grade One /Two students whist studying birds completed a bird survey of our school grounds finding eleven different bird species. They noted the lack of wattlebirds and decided that we needed to provide more nectar producing plants such as grevilleas, and banksias to lure the birds back to our school grounds.

 In Term Three, students investigated plant propagation methods to grow indigenous and non- indigenous plants species for our gardens. They learnt about seed dispersal methods and were able to identify how seeds travel by examining their structural features.

 In Term Two and Four students in grade 3-6 decided to turn our school pond area into a lizard enclosure for our eastern water dragon, which are currently house in indoor enclosures. They researched the needs of water dragons and set about finding out whether these reptiles could survive outdoors. Indigenous plants were planted and the area remodeled to include tree branches, railway sleepers and large rocks to provide shelter and basking areas for the lizards. We priced Perspex sheets for the fencing which will need to be installed early in Term One 2020.

In term Four, we were given 200 surplus tube stock plants indigenous plants- mainly lomandras that we planted on the bank area that we are trying to revegetate. We have sked the bushland team from the City of Greater Dandenong for any tree branches or small tree trunks that we could place up on the bank area to stop the soil from falling down the slope. These branches will also catch any leaf litter, which will eventually become soil that we can plant out. We have also placed ice cream containers under the drinking taps to catch excess water, which is us then used to water the bank area plants over the summer months.

 In 2020 we have plans to plant new trees that will provide shade for students to play under and homes for our birds and animals. We always need help in the garden so we would like to invite members of our school community to join us in creating a better environment for our students, staff and families at Silverton. If you would like to become involved in our school gardening program, please contact Mrs. Blake.