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Penguins of Australia

About the Program

This program introduces students to the incredible anatomy of penguins and the species residing within all known Australian landmasses (including sub-antarctic territories). In this online talk, we’ll be understanding their behaviour/habits, known life-cycles, functional morphology (anatomy) and their diverse evolutionary traits that have allowed many penguin species to dominate southern marine ecosystems.

Additionally, this program will teach students about the geological history of Port Phillip Bay and the ways in which humans impact penguin populations within a broader context.

• What is evolution/extinction?
• What are penguins?
• Why should we preserve penguins?
• Geologic history of Port Phillip Bay
• What impacts are humans having on the marine environment (such as Port Phillip Bay)?
• Threats to marine life

Excursion Duration:
45 mins
Year Level:
Group Size:
$150 +GST for up to 50 students
Program Themes:
Penguins, bird, evolution, life cycle, Port Phillip Bay, Southern Ocean, Antarctica, extinction
  • 3-4 Science knowledge helps people to understand the effects of their actions (VCSSU056)
  • 5-6 Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (VCSSU074)
  • 5-6 The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (VCSSU075)
  • 5-6 Scientific understandings, discoveries and inventions are used to inform personal and community decisions and to solve problems that directly affect people’s lives (VCSSU073)
  • 7-8 Ways that flows of water connect places as they move through the environment and the ways this affects places (VCGGK106)
  • 7-8 Interactions between organisms can be described in terms of food chains and food webs and can be affected by human activity (VCSSU093)
  • 9-10 Ecosystems consist of communities of interdependent organisms and abiotic components of the environment; matter and energy flow through these systems (VCSSU121)

In this program, students will learn everything they need to know about penguins and the incredible anatomy of these marine birds in Australia (and all known Australian territories in the antarctic).

Penguins are the incredible product of over 60 million years of evolution. They are wonderfully adapted to the marine realm, with some species clocking in at 36 km/hr under the water! As creatures that live half their life on land and half in water, they are arguably the most extreme group of birds on the planet, with some species capable of diving more than half a kilometre below the icy-cold water.

This talk will take you on a journey through time, to understand the form and function of modern penguins today. We’ll be looking at the penguins that stood taller than LeBron James over 35 million years ago and other prehistoric penguins which had bizarre “spear-like” bills for ensnaring slippery prey.

We’ll then be “diving” into the functional anatomy of modern species, to see what makes them tick and how they survive in one of the most hostile environments of all; the Antarctic. By looking into the myriad of different species in all australian territories, students will have a newfound appreciation for these marine birds by understanding the anatomical features that have them so successful.

This program will make students question how humanity has shaped the ecology of Port Phillip Bay and the Southern Ocean and what they can do to preserve it for future generations.

A Q&A session, following the program, will allow students to investigate any further topics and/or questions in detail with the presenter.

This incursion is delivered online using Zoom. A teacher and class can join the session from the classroom or remotely from home. A meeting link and instructions will be sent out with the booking confirmation. Minimum group size is 20, maximum group size is 50. An invoice will be forwarded after the incursion is completed. The fee covers our programs administration costs. Please book your incursion at least 7 days in advance – we are unable to accept last-minute bookings.

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Please note, outdoor excursions only run on Tues, Wed, Thursdays.

School Information

Organising Teacher Details

The EcoCentre acknowledges the Kulin Nations, including the Yalukit Willam clan of the Boon Wurrung language group, traditional custodians of the land on which we are located.

We pay respects to their Elders past and present, and extend that respect to other First Nations and Elder members of our multicultural community.