Junior at Notre Dame Gives Presentation on Semester Abroad in Australia
On January 9, 2012, fifth grade students at Bel Air Elementary School went “down under” with the help of Notre Dame Junior, Kevin Creamer, as he talked with them about daily life in Australia and environmental issues facing the continent.
Kevin, who recently returned from a semester abroad in Australia, gave a presentation to the students that highlighted topics such as landforms, natural resources, environmental concerns, and native and invasive species. The group learned that the significant deficit of water impacts the daily life of Australians and forces people to take extra caution in conservation.
“Toilets have two buttons – half-flush or full-flush,” said Creamer. “As an Australian, each time you use the restroom, you have to make a choice to conserve water. Daily activities like washing your car or watering flowers are not options due to their severe lack of water.”
Students also learned that one reason that cows or other grazing animals are not plentiful in Australia is because there is no grass. He explained, “Grass doesn’t grow well, and even though they have tried to bring it over from Europe, its growth is generally unsuccessful due to the lack of water.”
Animal species including wallabies, kangaroos, wombats and dingo dogs roam the countryside in Australia as does a wide variety of highly poisonous snakes and spiders. Peacocks and parrots are typical birds that can be seen on the streets as well.
Creamer compared the kangaroo to deer in the United States. “You can be walking down the street and see several kangaroo sitting in front of someone’s home. It takes a bit of getting used to.”
Because these animals are plentiful, they are often used for consumption. Kangaroo and emu are typical menu items in Australia.
As is the case in many countries, invasive species have caused problems in Australia. Giant toads have been brought to Australia from South America to combat a growing beetle problem; however, the toads did not eat the beetles and are now a problem themselves. In addition, rabbits were imported from Europe and have multiplied rapidly consuming large amounts of vegetation causing a significant imbalance in the ecosystem.
Bel Air students learned the importance of mining for silver, gold, iron and coal as mining is a very lucrative business in Australia. Kevin showed the students photos of the Kalgoorlie Mine and the colossal dump truck used to collect minerals from the bottom. “This truck is so huge that the tire is bigger than two adults. It moves slowly through the mine until it reaches the bottom and loads the minerals. The entire process of getting one load of minerals takes about sixteen hours,” explained Creamer.
Throughout the presentation, students were encouraged to participate and ask questions. The group was especially intrigued by Kevin’s undersea scuba explorations, his experiences with monkeys and spiders, and his walk-about with the Aborigines, natives of Australia. In all, the students were inspired by Kevin’s knowledge and appreciated the opportunity to become more informed about the issues facing the world today.