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Our programs and activities

Alternative energy

Climate change is a global issue. The Centre role models sustainable living practices and students explore energy efficient buildings. Students investigate types of energy including fossil fuels and renewable energy sources. Students visit one of Queensland’s largest stand alone alternative energy sites and examine wind and solar power, gas generators and associated equipment. Hands on interaction with various models is also a key component of the lesson.

Bush walks

North Keppel Island is a National Park and is a beautiful island to explore. There are a variety of walks, ranging from a short walk to Mazie Bay, a walk to the Mangroves at Considine Creek or a half day walk to Bald Hill and around the island. Provision can be made to take morning tea or lunch on extended walks. Bushwalking exposes the students to a variety of ecosystems as well as spectacular views.


Students enjoy camping out in a tent with friends. Many students have not been camping before, so a tent construction and pack up are demonstrated. If students are camping out at the Centre, campouts can be combined with a campfire at night. It is also possible for students to camp away from the Centre at locations such as Conical Island, Humpy Island, Considine Beach and Bald Hill and these may incur a small additional fee for National Park Camping Permits. If students are camping away from the Centre, adequate preparation time must be allocated to allow for preparation of students backpacks, related equipment and travel time. The Centre can provide about ten tents, ten backpacks, and ten trangias. A campout links well with talks on Minimal Impact Living and food preparation activities such as dehydrating food.

Cultural studies

The Kanomi people were the original inhabitants of North Keppel Island and the Woppaburra people inhabited Great Keppel Island. Students learn about the way these tribes lived and how they utilised the land and the ocean. Students visit Mazie Bay where the Kanomi people lived and learn about the midden located there. Students visit the cultural cabin to view a variety of artifacts. The aboriginal painting in the dining hall tells the story of the Kanomi people living at North Keppel Island for at least 4000 years. The Australian Museum has poduced excellent teaching resources. Link.

Evening plankton trawling

Students participate in a powerpoint lesson on plankton prior to the evening meal. Students learn about phytoplankton, zooplankton, stages in the life cycle and the food web. After dinner, students go out on the Centre’s boat and use a plankton net to collect plankton. Students then view the plankton in the dry lab using microscopes and are fascinated by the different types or features of the plankton.

Fish dissection

Dissecting a fish is a hands-on, real life and practical activity. Students identify features of the internal and external structure of the fish and discuss different functions and adaptations. Students discover similarities between the functions of some of the organs of the fish and some organs in humans.

Group initiatives

Group initiatives involve students working together to achieve cooperative goals. Initiative activities can include the spider web activity, a balance activity entitled boat ride, toxic waste, acid walk, log shuffle, and an islands activity. Initiative activities encourage the students to work together and develop leadership skills.

Intertidal explorations

The intertidal zone is an amazing and diverse ecosystem. Students are briefed on safety and care when exploring the area. Students enjoy exploring the area and are encouraged to look carefully for sea cucumbers, brittle stars, false abalones, tube worms, organ pipe coral and a variety of shells. Students are fascinated by the marine life they find under rocks and in small pools. Students need to bring closed in shoes that can get wet for this activity.

Litter studies

Students collect and categorise litter at Mazie Bay. It is an empowering activity because students have learnt about the environment during their stay at the Centre and then take a positive action to care for the environment. Discussions are conducted about the litter and where it may have originated. Students come to realise that the litter that is thrown onto the street at home may end up in the ocean. This activity links well with Aquaria Studies.

Low ropes

Students enjoy the challenge of the ropes course activity. The low ropes course has five elements. Students learn spotting skills and participate in trust activities when they still have their feet on the ground. In groups of three, students then take turns at the ropes course. As well as being challenging, it is a very positive experience as students learn to support each other.

Mangrove studies

The grey, yellow and milky mangroves are three different species of mangrove at Considine Creek at North Keppel Island. The three different species can be identified by differences in their root and leaf structures, as well as where they live. The mangrove area can be described as a ‘nursery’ as it is a place for young fish, crabs and other marine creatures. A mangrove walk can be interesting for all age groups, with younger students enjoying the diversity of life

Microscope activities

Students are fascinated by the hidden world of plankton, details in flowers and freshwater ecology. There is a set of about ten microscopes that are available for students. The microscopes are used in the evening plankton trawl activity. They can also be used when combined with a flower dissection activity. Students become immersed in discovering parts and details of flowers that they previously had not noticed. The microscopes can further be used to look at tiny freshwater creatures that can be collected from the dam at the Centre.


In small groups students learn to work together and share when they use compasses and GPS units to navigate around a set course. Students learn about directions and pacing. The orienteering course also links with Science as each mark is a plant and students need to identify features and adaptations of each plant.


Outrigging provides students with opportunities to develop teamwork and leadership skills. Students examine the history and cultural aspects of outrigging. The Centre has three outriggers, which allows up to eighteen students to outrig at one time. Generally a rotation is done to allow all students the opportunity to participate. Reef viewers are taken to allow exploration of fringing reefs. Depending upon weather, nearby islands may be visited.

Raft building

This design technology curriculum activity provides students with an opportunity to develop teamwork and communication skills. It allows students to design, develop, test and appraise their raft. During testing a small expedition may be undertaken.

Screen printing

The Centre has two screens for printing, one displaying the Centre’s logo and the other featuring the Reef Guardian symbol. Students need to bring a shirt or calico bag to print. Students are encouraged to do a screen print on one side and paint their own environmental message on the other side. Calico bags are successful as it is hoped that students use their calico bags rather than plastic bags when back on the mainland. A shirt can also be a means of educating, when others read the message on the shirt.


Students enjoy the opportunity to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef. The reef around North Keppel Island is fringing reef and displays a diversity of fish as well as soft and hard corals. Students are briefed on how to get ready for snorkelling and safety when snorkelling. Students’ first snorkel is always a beach snorkel, where students learn snorkelling skills such as how to breath through their snorkel and use their fins. If visiting staff program a second snorkel, this is from our boat, “Gundoo Spirit” where students take a boat ride to a nearby reef and jump off the boat into the water. Snorkel sites are chosen depending on the weather. For safety for this activity it is required that a visiting adult becomes a ‘spotter’ and stays out of the water and looks out for the students. In the water, as well as a North Keppel Island staff member leading the snorkel, there is generally at least one other visiting adult in the water with the students to offer support and encouragement. Snorkelling is often combined with manta towing, especially with younger students. Snorkelling links with a range of outcomes including Science and Health and Physical Education. Visiting teachers are requested to identify the outcomes in their program and student discussions are conducted prior to and following the snorkel regarding these outcomes.

Survival at sea

Students participate in a problem based scenario. Students are taken for a joyous boat ride, when suddenly the ‘boat strikes a coral reef and begins to sink’. This means that the students need to use the RFD to get all of their peers safely to shore. Students are allowed to take only one item with them to help them survive on the ‘deserted island’ until help arrives. A fantastic activity for team building and developing cooperation and leadership skills.


Imagine swimming at Sandy Beach at beautiful North Keppel Island! Students enjoy their afternoon swim under the supervision of the visiting teachers and a North Keppel island staff member. The Centre provides stinger suits or wetsuits. Students take to the beach with all safety equipment including the rescue float, flags to swim between and fun equipment to play with. Visiting students can only swim while a registered teacher with a current Bronze Medallion is present. All NKIEEC staff have this current qualification.

Water monitoring

Water is a precious resource. Australia is one of the driest continents in the world and is becoming drier each year. All of the water used at North Keppel is rainwater. During their stay at the island, students monitor and record the amount of water used by individual cabins or the whole centre. Students devise ways of using less water and are encouraged to use these strategies back at school and home.