Whilst students across the Northern Territory were on holidays in July, a group of Year 11 students from Tokyo, Jakarta and The Essington International Senior College participated in a unique international hands-on week long Science Program. The Program, in its fourth year, brings senior secondary students together to complete fieldwork and research with leading local scientists studying local tropical environments and animals.

Co-ordinated by international education and science consultant, Dr. Greg Clarke, the program saw students studying crocodiles, water pythons, flat back turtles, wetland birds and red claw. Students gathered data and completed research activities in the field. Dr. Greg Clarke said: “Students were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with scientists such as Prof. Grahame Webb and Dr. Gregory Brown, and OzTurtle scientists on Bare Sand Island”. Prof. Grahame Webb has been researching crocodiles in the Northern Territory for over forty years, and Dr. Gregory Brown, University of Sydney, has been researching the water pythons of Fogg Dam for over twenty years.

International students were fascinated by the nine metre high termite mounds in Litchfield National Park, and enjoyed catching red claw in traps at Crocodylus Park as part of a research project. They also collected water samples for analysis from the various environments they worked in.

During the week students visited Crocodylus Park’s Wildlife Management Research Centre, the Adelaide River Jumping Crocs, Windows on the Wetland display overlooking the Adelaide River flood plain, the Mary River wetlands system, Fogg Dam wetlands and bird and snake population, the Territory Wildlife Park, Litchfield National Park termite mounds, the NT Museum and Art Gallery, Bare Sand Island (and nesting turtles), and mangroves at Buffalo Creek, Lee Point.

Principal David Cannon said: “Students from Tamagawa University School in Tokyo and international schools in Jakarta enjoyed working with Essington Year 11 students on the various Science activities undertaken. It was great to see the cross-cultural discussion occurring on Science related topics being studied, and on global Science issues”.

The program, named after Teturo Obara, a past inspirational President of Tamagawa Univeristy in Tokyo, has been conducted for the last four years. It is planned to expand the program in 2018 and beyond to include international students from other Asian international schools. The program is an important part of the Essington School’s STEM Program and links the School with leading international schools in Asia through Science.

Dr. Greg Clarke said: “Darwin and the tropical environment have so much to offer in the Science area. In many areas it is a Science frontier area with a great deal still to be learnt about tropical ecosystems and the animals in them”.

Principal David Cannon said: “Students from large cities such as Tokyo and Jakarta are amazed at the local Northern Territory tropical environment and animals. Their experiences working with local experienced scientists ‘hands on’ in the field are ones they will remember forever. Their favourite animal is always the nesting Flatback Turtles and their hatchlings on Bare Sand Island”.