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Australia’s first water-education resource website has been developed by researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) to increase water and sustainability awareness.

A wide range of materials, including more than 700 online resources were provided by private and public Australian organisations, as well as government departments. This collection now offers a single point of access for teachers and students from pre-school through to secondary school.

Funded through the Australian Government’s $12.9 billion water reform initiative, Water for the Future, and hosted by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, the website is designed to support the curriculum of each State and Territory.

With water not generally specified in the curricula, key concepts and themes were used to connect the online water resources to required learning objectives, according to project leader Will Kershaw from the Working Group for Cleaner Production (WGCP), in the Faculty of Science at UQ.

“Our brief was to make it easy for all Australian pre-school, primary and secondary teachers to access online water education resources from across Australia and incorporate these into their lesson plans,” said Mr Kershaw.

“We created a website on which the materials can be linked by key themes and concepts to the learning objectives for any curriculum, school level and subject. This has given teachers the freedom and flexibility to adapt a growing body of water-education resources to meet their specific needs,” he said.

Mr Kershaw and his colleagues at the WGCP collaborated with UQ researchers from the School of Education and the Centre for Biological Information Technology to source and identify the best resources, review the curricula and develop the website.

Working with UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest, the group was chosen over 19 other tender applicants for the government project.

The unusual combination of a large environmental group with a history in water and environmental education, along with IT and education experts, made the group highly attractive, according to UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson.

“This is a key example of how UQ, through UniQuest, can facilitate a multi-disciplinary consulting team as well as the willingness of UQ researchers to combine their collective expertise to meet a client’s unique needs,” he said.

Working closely with the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, the website was successfully launched on 1 February 2010. The website can be viewed atwww.environment.gov.au/wet.