Building for a Cause

In our 2020 Winter Griffin, we recognised our students who recently built bird boxes to be sent to the bushfire affected town of Mallacoota.

Building for a Cause

The bushfires that ravaged Australia in early 2020 were some of the most devastating on record, setting millions of acres ablaze. More than one billion animals perished, causing immeasurable damage to Australia’s unique ecosystem.

One of the worst hit townships in Victoria was the coastal town of Mallacoota, in the Gippsland region. The town of Mallacoota is now finding its feet again, with citizens hard at work rebuilding their livelihoods. However, with countless trees burnt to a cinder, a challenge now lies in providing safe spaces for native wildlife to nest and breed.

Inspired to help, Mr Craig Abernethy set our Design and Technology and PreCal students to the task of building bird nesting boxes for Mallacoota. Students compiled a proposal document detailing the benefits of these boxes and the materials needed to construct boxes that would withstand all weather conditions to safely house local birds. Students sourced non-toxic materials and built two full scale prototypes before beginning construction, incorporating sloped lids to shelter wildlife, drainage systems and carefully measured entrances to accommodate all species of birds.

By mid-April our students had constructed 90 bird boxes, ready to be delivered to Mallacoota. Year 9 student Oliver Arnott greatly valued the experience of building these bird boxes.

“I enjoyed working on a project that was for a good cause; to help birds who are now homeless due to the devastating summer bushfires. I also really enjoyed building the boxes from scratch. It was great to watch this project come together. These nesting boxes are very important as they provide birds with places to breed. For example, the native bird species of Red-Rumped Parrots are now struggling to find trees to nest and lay their eggs in. Lending this species a helping hand with our bird boxes allows this species to keep breeding, ensuring that they do not become extinct.”

Head of Design and Technology, Mr Craig Abernethy, was heartened by our students’ enthusiastic approach to this project.

“I was pleased to see different forms of learning happening throughout the construction of the bird boxes. This project was completed by more than 30 schools throughout Victoria, and it was great to hear that Salesian College produced the largest number of bird boxes. The boys demonstrated critical thinking throughout the project, asking several insightful questions such as, ‘How will the birds be able to reach the exit hole of the boxes when they are nesting?’ and ‘What will stop other predators entering the boxes and eating the hatching eggs?’ This was an excellent learning experience for us, and we enjoyed the challenge. I would like to thank teachers Mr Kim Beurs, Mr Robert Marley, Mr Raffaele Battista, Mr Nicholas Place, Mr Daniel Place and Mr Bob Synadinos for their enthusiastic involvement in this project.”