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Life under the microscope

1.5 Hours Per Group
Book Program
Year Levels


Animals have a variety of amazing adaptations which help them to survive in their environment. Students will investigate various structural adaptations of mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates under a microscope, to gain a greater understanding of the importance of these features to their survival.

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge is required. This can be a pre-visit, post-visit or a stand alone activity.

  • Prior to the outreach visit, students are encouraged to explore and collect invertebrates from their school grounds, then examine their features under a microscope during the incursion session.

Key Learning Question

What specific features do animals have that help them to survive in their environment?

Learning Intentions

In this program students will:

  • Compare and contrast between various features that are observable with the eye, through a magnifying glass and under the microscope
  • Discover the structural adaptations of animals that allow them to be adapted to their environment


Students will:

  • Use microscopes to have a detailed look at scales, feathers, fur and identify structural adaptations
  • Make inferences based on their observations regarding the environment in which each animal lives and how it is able to survive in that environment
  • Compare different types of feathers and the important role each of these play in a bird’s survival
  • Inspect the dense waterproof fur of a preserved platypus which provides excellent thermal insulation

Victorian Curriculum

Science – Biological sciences

  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (VCSSU074)
  • The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment (VCSSU075)

Learning Continuum

The following Learning Continuum is a guide for teachers to show the links between the programs Ecolinc offers onsite, online and through outreach. The Learning Continuum can be used to access Ecolinc resources to support the development of units of work.

Ecolinc Learn Online is an online learning management system offering interactive online courses for students and teachers. These courses can be undertaken either as a pre-visit, post-visit or stand-alone.

Outreach programs are conducted by an Ecolinc education officer at your school. They are available to moderately disadvantaged primary schools in the Geelong, Ballarat and western suburbs areas (or within 100km radius from Bacchus Marsh).

Learn Online Pre-program:

Spotlight on survival


It’s a match


☞ Life under the microscope