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2 June 2010
A barnacle that looks like the Sydney Opera House? A pink fish that walks on the sea floor? An outback ant that makes a tubular home from spinifex grass and red soil?
These are just some newly discovered Australian species that are part of a new teachers' resource booklet and competition that will this week go to school children around the country.
"Ahead of World Environment Day on Saturday and in the International Year of Biodiversity, we want to get kids excited by the environment around them and the discoveries still taking place today of new plants and animals across our vast continent," Environment Protection Minister Peter Garret said.
"Australian scientists including the team from Bush Blitz - which I was pleased to launch earlier this year - have nominated their Top 10 species from the scores they've discovered and described since last year.
"Inspired by Bush Blitz, the Australian Science Teacher's Association has developed lesson plans and field trips so that kids get out into nature and learn to look, feel, smell and then identify native plants and animals.
"The kit will begin to go into schools this week and will lead to a national competition during National Science Week in August, when kids will vote online for their favourite new species.
"Prizes include free trips to state museums and for high school students, the chance to participate in a real Bush Blitz field trip, working with some of the country's top scientists."
Bush Blitz is a three-year $10 million partnership to document the plants and animals in hundreds of properties across Australia's National Reserve System of national parks and protected areas.
"This project is all about inspiring the next generation," Australian Science Teachers Association Chief Executive Officer Peter Russo said.
"Getting kids excited about science and the environment through activities like Bush Blitz means they'll consider careers in this growing field.
"These kids will be the ones who find new solutions to biodiversity threats and climate change."
In the meantime kids can check out the new species and find information on how scientists discovered and named the species online at www.bushblitz.org.au
The Bush Blitz partnership is led by the Australian Government, Bhp Billiton, conservation research group Earthwatch and the National Scientific Reference Site Network, part of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network. Also involved are CSIRO, every museum, herbarium and government in the country and dozens of Australia's top scientists and volunteers.