Australian Journal of Environmental Education

Feature Articles

‘Operation Magpie’: Inspiring Teachers' Professional Learning Through Environmental Science

Yvonne Zeegersa1 c1, Kathryn Paigea1, David Lloyda1 and Philip Roetmana2

a1 School of Education, University of South Australia, Australia

a2 School of Natural and Built Environments, University of South Australia, Australia


Operation Magpie was a citizen science project that involved the community in collecting data about magpies. This article describes one aspect of the project from an education perspective. The study began with a collaboration of teacher educators, environmental scientists and a local radio station. After an initial workshop with 75 teachers, three teacher educators met regularly with 13 primary teachers who each volunteered to plan and teach a unit of work on birds. Meeting regularly in focus groups, the teachers shared their pedagogical strategies that supported students to connect with their local environment. Findings include the importance of focused professional learning for teachers through ongoing, needs-based support during the planning and teaching of the unit, and the innovative ways that teachers approached the unit. One unexpected finding was that teachers tended to identify student learning in terms of the English curriculum rather than the science curriculum.


  • professional learning;
  • environmental science;
  • Citizen Science;
  • pedagogy;
  • primary education


c1 Address for correspondence: Yvonne Zeegers, School of Education, University of South Australia, St Bernard's Road, Magill SA 5072, Australia. Email: