What is the Jenolan Caves Investigation Program?
The Jenolan Caves Investigation Program is a groundbreaking education experience which makes it possible for students to investigate one of the most spectacular cave systems in the world right from their computer or tablet.
Integrated with IntoScience, the Jenolan Caves Investigation Program puts students into a virtual world where they can explore, learn and apply their scientific knowledge to solve problems.
Learning outcomes from the Investigation Program are directly related to students’ curriculum requirements, and foster development of scientific skills such as asking questions, making predictions and analysing data quality.
The program has been designed to appeal to a wide range of age groups through offering a series of investigative tasks which progressively increase in difficulty. In this way, students of all scientific abilities are able to take advantage of the learning opportunities present in the program.
Ultimately, the program aims to inspire a sense of curiosity in students and encourage them to discover and understand the world around them.
What do students learn?
The Investigation Program operates as both a teaching and learning tool, providing teachers and students with an interactive resource to excite interest in scientific discovery. The activities are designed to facilitate independent and group learning, and gives teachers the option to either control student access or allow students to freely discover the caves.
The Investigation Program is a string of activities which students complete as they make their way around the cave system. Their primary goal is to discover how the caves have formed, but many avenues of investigation are open to the students, such as classifying local animals, discovering important artefacts from the cave’s history and learning about the crystal formations found in the caves.
Upon entering the Jenolan Caves, students discover that an investigation into how the caves have formed is only half complete. Students are challenged to join in and complete the unfinished inquiry.
Throughout the caves students encounter sample stations that they must use to record vital data about the cave environment. The investigation is largely focused around collecting rock, water and air samples where students must then perform tests to determine what these samples are, what chemicals they contain and other properties including their acidity.
With this information, they discover vital clues which can direct their investigations. With their sample stations they can start to perform investigations into whether certain substances will react with each other, how to separate liquid mixtures and what physical changes occur to samples under different conditions.
Ultimately, this educational journey is facilitating student understanding into how the caves have formed over time.