About Key to Port Arthur Investigations


Key to Port Arthur Investigations is designed to offer a rich and engaging program of discovery-based learning for Middle School students by engaging them in the life of a Port Arthur resident, convict or free, between 1830 and 1877. 

Key to Port Arthur Investigations consists of three parts:

  1. Multi media CD-ROM rich in material and resources (now downloadable)
  2. Website that is continually monitored and updated
  3. Resource Centre Manager for contact with the Port Arthur Historic Site

This website has been designed to compliment the Key to Port Arthur Investigations CD-ROM.  It provides a number of resources for teachers that include student/teacher conference proforma and the learning outcomes for each of the overarching issues connected to each Key Life.  For students there are some additional resources that will be updated as more comes to hand, links to external websites and a Student Showcase where quality work submitted by teachers to the Port Arthur Education and Conservation staff can be exhibited.

Features include:

  • a proforma for student-teacher conferencing to assist the student to select their line of enquiry,
  • a print out, customised to each student’s selection of key life/investigation/overarching issue, that lists the assessable learning indicators, 
  • links and scaffolding to assist students and teachers to complete their unit of work,
  • primary resources – including images, unpublished reports and published materials – that are either unobtainable or difficult to access through libraries, and
  • a Guide to Getting Started: helpful hints to assist in navigating through the program.

The Key to Port Arthur Investigations program involves learners getting to really know and understand the  ‘Key Life’ they have elected to study by revealing the living conditions, choices made, and reasons for their character being at Port Arthur.  In the process students will choose an investigation to develop and an ethical dilemma to ponder.

Once the student has chosen their combination of investigation and ethical question, Key to Port Arthur Investigations automatically suggests a choice of learning outcomes.  Initially based upon the Victorian and Tasmanian curricula, the issues and ethical questions raised through the program have application in a wider Australian and international context.  At this point the student and teacher have a conference, choose learning outcomes, agree on performance levels, develop the project plan and sign off on an agreement. Proformas for these tasks are contained within Key to Port Arthur Investigations.

The program provides a framework for activities which deliberately encourage students to establish relationships and seek information outside normal school avenues, developing high quality processes and communication skills.  By meeting one of the people who once lived here through the lives around which this program is built, students will learn about themselves and our society, past, present and future.

We hope to encourage schools to build a visit to Port Arthur into their curriculum as we believe that Port Arthur has much to teach us.