Secondary Melbourne

The following programs are designed to incorporate AusVELS. They provide an effective and integrated approach for teaching across the Domains. Each program is led by a Royal Botanic Gardens secondary teacher and can be adapted to suit individual group needs. Teacher professional development workshops are also available on request.

Session times

All programs 1 hour and 45 minutes in duration.
10.15am – 12.00 noon
12.30pm – 2.15pm

Program prices (domestic)

$10.85 per student (includ. GST)
$196.00 per class, for small groups (Minimum Charge)
Teachers / Adults free

Bookings and information

Melbourne bookings and information

T: (03) 9252 2358

E: edserv@rbg.vic.gov.au

Cranbourne bookings and information

T: (03) 5990 2200

E: rbgc@rbg.vic.gov.au



Melbourne programs

New! Carbon Futures

Climate change is a global challenge impacting all countries but in different ways. This program explores some of the social justice issues raised by climate change and some of the opportunities to make the world a more interesting and a better place. Find out what students in East Timor are doing to improve their lives and how you might help. Discover the carbon cycle and how plants can help moderate climate change.

Students will measure the carbon storage capacity of different tree species and use technology to determine carbon dioxide emissions and also assess the importance of trees in an urban landscape. Read the teachers kit - Towards Sustainability (PDF - 2.045 MB)


Landscapes for Learning NEW

Are you planning a garden or outdoor space at your school?

Do you want the students to be an integral part of the design and implementation process?

Through the exploration of the plants and landscapes of the Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, students discover how to develop an outdoor space that can be centred around sustainability, biodiversity,  as well as creative and artistic expression .

During their visit they will explore the design of outdoor spaces, using natural materials, the sensory world of plants, real work in the garden, plant selection, sustainability, biodiversity and how these can be incorporated into their own school environment.

Students will take home a seedling or propagated plant to contribute to their garden space.


Working Wetlands 

This program examines the vital resource of water and how the Royal Botanic Gardens uses water saving and water quality improvement strategies. The program explores how to create sustainable habitats for indigenous plant and animal communities in a suburban environment. Students will participate in a variety of activities including ponding for fresh water invertebrates, observations of wildlife habitats and developing ideas for future sustainable resource use.


The Rainforest (Year 7–9)

Experience a rainforest in the centre of Melbourne! Within the Gardens there is a huge diversity of rainforest plants from Australia and around the world. Students will explore rainforest structure and ecology and the importance of rainforest conservation.


Biodiversity on the Yarra (Year 7–9)

Where in Melbourne would you go to see spoonbills and night herons feeding at the billabong, eels and long-necked tortoises swimming in a wetland or even powerful owls and a reed warbler? As you walk through this re-vegetated area you will be able to observe some of the interrelationships between the indigenous flora and fauna using binoculars to explore life cycles and food chains. Students will examine aquatic invertebrates through microscopes and pond sampling.


Water Management – Explore Guilfoyle’s Volcano 

This program students a full understanding of the history of water use in the Gardens, explores ways that water-saving techniques can be used in the wider community, and engages and challenges students through a range of hands-on activities. Activities include making a dripper watering system, creating contour lines on a landscape and observing water-saving principles in operation.


Science of Soil – Explore Guilfoyle’s Volcano

This program looks at various aspects of soil and aims to develop an understanding of the important role of soil in life on Earth. Students will participate in hands-on activities including handling different types of soil, discovering wetting patterns of different soil types, testing pH of various soils and measuring soil temperature in a range of locations.


Plant Power – Explore Guilfoyle’s Volcano 

This program looks at many aspects of plant growth. Students participate in hands-on activities including measuring tree height, using compasses to make a tree canopy map, photographing various types of leaves, counting tree rings to check growth and planting a cutting.


Climate Change 

Climate change is now accepted as a reality that we have to address globally. Find out what it means for us and what we can do about it. Take home a drought-tolerant carbon-fixing plant, and find out how to creatively manage and store water while reflecting on the bigger picture solutions.

Contribute to a national science program that helps inform Australia’s response to climate change. Walk the ClimateWatch trail and observe the plants and animals that are most sensitive to future climate change. Record what you see using the free ClimateWatch smartphone app, or on recording sheets available from the Visitor Centre.


Connecting to Country (Year 7–VCE)

Connecting to Country is designed to give students a greater understanding and respect for the local Koolin culture. Students visit Long Island, where indigenous plant habitat has been returned and understand the significance of Waa (the raven) and Birrarung (Yarra River). Experiences include making and using ochre paint and string making. The emphasis is on diversity and examining sustainable land practices used by Aboriginal people.


Water 4 Life (Year 7–10)

Understanding water is vital in the face of a drying continent. This water conservation program explores the role of water in the ecology of natural environments such as billabongs and wetlands. Student activities include water sampling, exploring sustainable gardening practices by propagating a plant, and understanding how the Gardens is conserving water. Students examine plant adaptations for arid and low rainfall environments.


Plant Toxicology (Year 9–10)

Come on a journey to discover the hidden power of plants and how they fight for survival in the face of constant attack from animals. Learn about the poisons that plants make in order to defend themselves and the effects these have on humans and other animals. Learn the shocking truth that many common garden plants and parts of common food plants are poisonous. Recognise the features of poisonous plants, learn about medicinal plants and plants thought to have magical powers.


Sustainable Gardening (Year 7–10)

The basic skills of sustainable gardening practice are taught during this hands-on program exploring water conservation, organic gardening methods, composting and worm farming. Students will consider ideas for designing and developing their own gardens by exploring the landscapes of the Royal Botanic Gardens.


Plantworks (Year 7–10)

Explore the structure and function of plants and investigate amazing adaptations from a variety of ecosystems. Students participate in observational activities in the Gardens using stereo microscopes, pot up a native plant seedling and investigate the plant collections in the Tropical Hot House and Herb Garden.


Changing Landscapes (Year 7–10)

This program examines Melbourne’s changing landscape, focusing on the importance of the Yarra River and the role of vegetation within the landscape, as well as its significance to the Koolin. Students will compare historic images and propagate an indigenous plant to take home.


Rare and Threatened Species

Students are shown effective planting techniques and the seedlings were planted in a suitable location within or close to each school. Participating schools have been given expert advice and are committed to the ongoing care of their new Rare and Threatened plant beds.

The Rare and Threatened Species education program partnership was developed with five secondary schools in 2009 to highlight a new series of plant display beds showcasing our collection of rare and threatened Australian native plant species. The Rare and Threatened Species Collection includes plants from five significant ecosystems in Victoria: Grampians, Mallee, Alpine, Grasslands and Gippsland Forest regions. A modified, one-visit version of the Rare and Threatened education program is now available to interested secondary schools on request.


Darwin's Garden

Celebrate the legacy and thinking of Charles Darwin, and learn about the big ideas that changed the world, such as natural selection. Darwin was a passionate observer fascinated by plants and the world around him. Explore amazing plant behaviour through observation, critical thinking and scientific enquiry. Techniques explored mirror Darwin's own work such as creating a nature journal, making plant specimens, using microscopes and observing plants in action.


LOTE: Italian, Indonesian and French (Year 7–VCE)

These programs help teachers immerse their students in the Gardens as an inspiring resource for language studies. Activities highlight plant use in these cultures and provide opportunity for language enrichment.


Working Wetlands (VCE Environmental Studies Unit 4)

Examine the flow of storm water and discover how it is diverted through the lakes system via gross pollutant traps and then filtered and cleaned through Floating Treatment Wetlands using bio-remediation techniques.


Working Wetlands (VCE Geography Unit 2)

Explore the management techniques used in harnessing recycled storm water for irrigation. Students assess the sustainability of the water recycling program and conduct fieldwork to analyse its future success.


Plant Adaptations (VCE Biology Unit 2)

Explore the diverse plant collections of the Gardens to discover many of the remarkable adaptations that allow plants to survive in a range of different environments. Students explore the plant collections of the Australian Rainforest Border, the Tropical Glasshouse and the Arid Garden, and participate in observational activities in the Gardens using stereo microscopes.


Plant Evolution and Diversity (VCE Biology Unit 1 and Unit 4)

Take an evolutionary journey of plant diversity from liverworts to lilies. See representatives of many of the plant phyla and their families and discover what kind of evolutionary advantages they have developed. Students participate in observational activities in the Gardens using stereo microscopes.


Behind the Scenes (VCE Biology Unit 1)

Visit the National Herbarium of Victoria and the Gardens' Nursery Collections and discover some fascinating botanical specimens. Learn about the work that goes on in the Herbarium such as plant identification and its significance over the last 150 years. See how specimens are collected, prepared, documented and mounted. Please note that no photographs can be taken in the Herbarium or Nursery area without prior arrangement.


Changing Landscapes (VCE Humanities Unit 3; VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies Unit 3)

This program examines Melbourne’s changing landscape, focusing on the importance of the Yarra River and the role of vegetation within the landscape, as well as its significance to the Koolin. Students will compare historic images and propagate an indigenous plant to take home.