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Biological Diversity: Darwin Down Under - Stage 6

Charles Darwin visited Australia and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in 1836. Here he made some interesting observations about Australian Plants that formed the basis of his theories of natural selection. Scientists at the RBG continue to ask questions about the evolution, distribution and abundance of Australian plant species. Using some of this recent research, students will engage in collaborative, inquiry based projects using critical and creative thinking to develop an understanding of biological diversity and the theory of evolution.

Learning Activities

  • Students learn about Charles Darwin's observations of Australian plants
  • They will investigate current botanical research to explain the diversity, evolution and adaptations of key Australian species
  • Students also analyse primary and secondary resources to propose hypotheses for plant research


Stage 6 Biology


Rathborne Lodge


2 hours


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Key Content

Students complete two of more of the following activities:

  • Activity 1: Wollemi Under Pressure where they will examine changes to the distribution of the Wollemi Pine and what environmental pressures act on it. New DNA research now provides an update on the future of this significant species
  • Activity 2: Eucalypts are Diverse where students observe the adaptations of four eucalypt species to explain how they have adapted to their specific environments 
  • Activity 3: Prolific Proteaceae where students examine the symmetry of flowers and how recent DNA data has led to an understanding of the evolution of this family of plants
  • Activity 4: Where has the Black Bean Been? students will examine methods of seed dispersal and form hypotheses about the dispersal mechanisms of the Black Bean tree. New research from our scientists suggests there is more to the story. 
Syllabus Outcomes

Focus Syllabus Outcomes

Module 3: Biological Diversity
  • Develops and evaluates questions and hypotheses for scientific investigation (BIO11/12-1)
  • Designs and evaluates investigations in order to obtain primary and secondary data and information (BIO11/12-2)
  • Communicates scientific understanding using suitable language and terminology for a specific audience or purpose (BIO11/12-7)
  • Describes biological diversity by explaining the relationships between a range of organisms in terms of specialisation for selected habitats and evolution of species (BIO11-10)
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Sustainable Development Goals

Through our education programs we aim to 
•    ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (SDG 4)
•    demonstrate actions that work towards making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11)
•    inform and empower students to preserve our forests and halt biodiversity loss (SDG 15)

Through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we promote prosperity for the whole community, while protecting our planet for future generations.


We would like to acknowledge the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation within Sydney and pay our respect to Elders past, present and future.