Vistara Primary School – Australia

Team Nature

By Rukminii Athans

We have now started a small group for those students who have a higher than average interest in nature and science. The children call it “Team Nature”. Each week this small group of children aged between 6 and 8 years venture into the humble Rainforest and Native Bush Food Tree Area of the school grounds. We bring along a pair of binoculars for each person, a journal, sample bags as to take berry or leaf samples back for further research, a digital camera, coloured pencils and a tarp to sit on. We sing and do meditation amongst the forest, listen to the birds sing all around us and soak in the beauty and wonder of this environment.With much amazement, with Grace, we all experienced something magical. Looking through our binoculars, we saw that every tree and leaf was surrounded by a body of bright colours. Rainbow colours surrounded every living thing. The light must have caught into the lenses in such a way that everything reflected an aura of beautiful turquoise, azure, greens, red, orange, yellow, pink. It was quite a wondrous experience for us all. One of the students said: “Oh, I know why that happens; it’s the light and the lens”. I replied; “Isn’t it amazing that sometimes, with the help of scientific tools, we can see things that are actually there, but our small eyes can’t see them.” You could see this child’s mind ticking away, moving from the tangible to the possibility of wonders yet to be known.What is this mysterious connection these little children have with our schools that brings them collectively together at such a young age to sing and do meditation, everyday for 7 years of their early lives? How mysterious this is. As educators, may we ask for humility and guidance and remember that we do not have all the answers. Let the search go on internally forever.

Conversations with a 6 Year Old Child…

Day One


Are you still interested in bugs and nature?Child:Mmmm? Well, yes, but what I’m really interested in is energy.R:What kind of energy?Child:Well, I’d like to know how energy transfers between one tree to another and how they use that to communicate?)R:I would like to know more about that too.Child:Yes! (Child run’s off to play)

Day Two

Child:R, what’s inside a seed of a tree that tells it to grow in a particular way?R:It has to do with the genetics of that particular tree. Like in humans, you know how we all look differently, think differently, act differently, but we’re called humans? Well in humans we also call it DNA.

(I’m thinking, what am I saying to this child? How could I even begin to answer this question? I could be going on a completely different tangent. How can I tell this 6 year old child that it is because of the Eternal Glance that awakens this seed, to make it reach up and out with all of its living essence, yearning for the One who once gazed upon it and stirred it’s very existence, encouraging it to grow. What’s holding me back?)

Child:(Nods his head, pondering) Do you mean it’s like, when you bake a cake, you use all sorts of different ingredients and mix them and put it into a cake tin and you can make lots of different cakes and everyone can have a slice, but it’s still called a cake?R:Yes.Child:I get it! (Child run’s off to play)

Day Three – 1:30 pm

Child:R, do you know if there is a plant that doesn’t have a variety of itself?R:No, I don’t, but let’s see if we can find out the answer.Child:Really? Oh, that’s terrific! (Child claps hands excitedly jumps up and runs off to play)

I contact National Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Conservation located 3 hours away. The Environmental Scientist knows of our school. I am surprised. We are such a small school in comparison to all the hundreds of other schools in our area. He says he knows a few of our graduates very well. He offers the information about a tree called the “Antarctic Beech Tree”. He said that this tree has been around since the time of Gondwanaland and is located 2 hours away on the mountain ranges of Dorrigo National Park . He also offers to visit the school in two weeks to talk to this little boy and finally come see our school. He states that he has heard we have done many Rainforest Tree Plantings and Native Tree Regeneration over the years. I was excited with the news and that I could give him some information before the weekend. I searched the internet for a photo and further information.

I locate the child and call him out of school assembly.

R:Remember you asked me if there was a tree that didn’t have a variety of itself?Child:(Eyes light and widen) Yes?!R:Well, I was able to contact some people who could help us with your question. This is a tree called an Antarctic Beech tree. It’s found in Dorrigo National Park , on the mountain ranges and it is so ancient that it was around when Australia and other countries were all joined together. This land was called Gondwanaland land.Child:(Jumps up excitedly, clapping his hands then picking up the picture) Oh, it’s beautiful!R:This picture is for you to keep and here’s some more information.Child:Oh thank you, thank you. (Gave me a big smile and excitedly ran out to join the other students.)