Dr Sarah Pye is an author, educator and puppeteer. She is passionate about using narratives, hands-on activities and discussion to connect all ages to the natural world, and help them tell their own stories.
Sarah’s presentations and workshops for children revolve around her Wildlife Wong series for ages 8-12, which was shortlisted for the Australian Educational Publishing Awards in 2022. Wildlife Wong and the Sun Bear is also an award-winning finalist in the Children's Non-Fiction category of the 2021 International Book Awards.
Each book is divided into nonfiction adventure narratives, cool animal facts and amazing experiments which align with English, HASS and Science curriculums and offer endless touchpoints. Sometimes the real-life hero of Sarah’s stories, Dr Wong, answers questions all the way from Borneo via the big screen!
Sarah is an inspirational speaker for adult audiences, and those launching into adulthood. Her life reads like an adventure novel: from a ‘boat schooled’ teen sailing the world, to restaurant manager in Hawaii, commercial boat captain in the Whitsundays and single mum on the Sunshine Coast. Sarah wrote Saving Sun Bears, the biography of Dr Wong, as part of what she called ‘the best doctorate in the world’. Not bad for a kid who didn’t go to high school! Sarah’s multimedia presentations explore resilience, tenacity and some of the most important environmental themes of our time.
When Wildlife Wong learns how to stuff dead animals, he doesn’t know it will lead him to meet Mina, a captive Sumatran rhino whose species is struggling to survive.
Does Wildlife Wong manage to track her wild cousins in the rainforest so they can be saved? Or will a falling tree branch propel this ancient animal to the brink of extinction? And what can Wildlife Wong learn from the ghosts of rhinos past that will help him stop sun bears suffering the same fate?
After the story, learn more about Sumatran rhinos and their rainforest home. Then make your own rhino model and rainforest diorama to honour these magnificent beasts!
Dr Sarah Pye is an adventurer, author, educator and puppeteer. She is passionate about using narratives and hands-on activities to engage others with wildlife and help them tell their own stories.
Sarah’s presentations and workshops for children revolve around her Wildlife Wong series for ages 8-12, which was shortlisted for the Australian Educational Publishing Awards in 2022. The first book in the series, Wildlife Wong and the Sun Bear, was also an award-winning finalist in the Children's Non-Fiction category of the 2021 International Book Awards. They align with English, HASS and Science curriculums and offer endless touchpoints.
Sarah is based in Southeast Queensland, but she delivers her talks and workshops globally (both in-person and online) to children and adults at preschools, schools, libraries, community groups and festivals.
Workshops for children:
What sort of animal am I? (Prep-Year 4, 1 hour)
Students learn about rainforest animals through storytelling, puppetry and a multimedia presentation. They then embrace their ‘inner animal’ and paint or colour an animal mask to take home.*
Are you as clever as an orangutan? (Year 2-6, 1 hour)
Students listen to a story from Wildlife Wong and the Orangutan about the naughty orangutan who stole Wong’s keys. They discuss opposable thumbs (an orangutan and human superpower), then go outside and raid the gardener’s green waste pile to try and build orangutan nests! Pongo the orangutan puppet tries them out for comfort…
The coolest animals you never knew existed (Year 3-6, 1 hour)
This workshop starts with a multimedia presentation introducing some of the coolest rainforest animals. Then students become part of the action: using puppets to act out a story from Wildlife Wong and the Fig Wasp.
Am I like a sun bear or an orangutan? (Year 4-6, I hour)
First, students learn cool facts about sun bears and orangutans. Then, they use a measurement chart from either an orangutan or a sun bear, measuring tape, scales and thermometers to compare themselves to their chosen species. This workshop ends with a discussion about the results.*
Who’s in my garden/playground? (Year 4-6, 1 hour)
Wildlife Wong and the Fig Wasp introduces some of the smallest creatures in the rainforest. This workshop begins with a multimedia presentation and story about some of them. In teams, children then make a quadrat (a grid which scientists use to count flora and fauna). With their quadrat in hand, they go outside and see what they can find. The workshop ends with a comparison of their findings.*
Narratives and informational text – which one wins? (Year 6, 1-2 hours)
Aligning directly with the Year 6 curriculum, this workshop uses Wildlife Wong and the Sun Bear to explore literary text and informational text. Students learn the importance of research, planning and editing, and explore literary techniques. They even get to help Sarah research her next book!
In the extended 2 hour workshop, they practise writing in both styles, and learn there’s more to books than just writing by exploring the publishing industry.*
Writing the environment (Year 7- 12, 1 hour)
Science needs writers! Students learn to harness their observation skills and use literary techniques to improve narrative and informational writing about the environment. With their tools sharpened, they put them to the test. This workshop can be conducted in the classroom, or in the great outdoors.
Meet a real wildlife hero (Year 3-12, 30 mins)
Meet the real-life hero of the Wildlife Wong series on the big screen, all the way from Borneo! This exciting event is designed to extend learning after students have participated in other workshops and if classes have brainstormed questions about sun bears beforehand.^
Life throws curve balls (Year 11-12, 45 mins-1 hour)
The results of one exam can plague young people with self-doubt and anxiety and the leap from school to life can be a daunting one. In this honest keynote address, Dr Sarah Pye shares the highs and lows of her adventurous life: from a ‘boat-schooled teenager’ sailing the world, to a restaurant manager in Hawaii, a boat captain in the Whitsundays and a single mum on the Sunshine Coast. Through anecdotes of life-threatening storms, momentous rejection letters and podium finishes, participants learn there is more than one path to your goals. By leaning into the challenges, Sarah has gone from a girl who didn't go to high school, to a university lecturer with seven published books to her name!
Presentations for adults:
The best doctorate in the world (1 hour)
Explore the adventures of Dr Sarah Pye in the jungles of Borneo as she undertook the ‘best doctorate in the world’ , resulting in her book Saving Sun Bears. It’s a journey of leaky gum boots, remote helicopter expeditions, incense smoked Buddhist temples, heart-pumping rejection letters and momentous goodbyes!
Borneo, Bears and Books (1.5 hours)
In this highly engaging and visual presentation, participants learn about the importance of the tropical rainforests in Borneo. They find out how human activities are impacting threatened sun bears. Then, they meet the people trying to save the species from extinction. Participants will leave with a renewed sense that one person CAN make a difference!
*workshops materials cost applies
^ additional speaker cost applies
For more information, see:
Also, see the Links section for access to her website, YouTube channel and other social media.
Dr Sarah Pye captivated the students with her knowledge and expertise on endangered animals. Her sessions were fun and engaging and the students loved making orangutan nests for Pongo to try out in our nature play space.
Glasshouse Christian College - October, 2023
“Sarah had such a magnetic personality and put a smile on my face as soon as she started talking. Her go with the flow attitude has made me excited for my future and finding multiple purposes like her. She is such a cool lady.”
yConnect - 2023
“Pitched really well to the age of the cohort. Great information that tied in so well to our Unit of Inquiry on Sharing the Planet. The making of the terrarium allowed the children to understand the layers of the rainforest and of course they got to take them home.”
St Peters Lutheran College - 2023
Sarah’s presentations were very informative for our students. They really enjoyed the topic, which aligned beautifully with the current units they were studying in both English and HASS. Sarah linked her writing experience to many useful techniques and language features that authors use, which will enhance the student’s writing.
The students especially enjoyed the live hook up with Dr. Wong in Borneo. We got to see an actual rescued bear and Dr. Wong answered all the student’s questions with great enthusiasm and humour.
A really enjoyable incursion for both students and staff.
Mooloolaba State School - 2022
It was a delight to have Sarah Pye and Pongo take part in Essex Book Festival. It was the first time we have had an orangutan in the festival and what an adventure it was! Thank you, Sarah, for making the afternoon so fun and interesting - the children (and grown-ups) all had a wonderful time learning about nature and orangutans. Please come back again soon!!
This talk was brilliant, fun and my child learnt lots too.
It was a great event - Dr Pye was brilliant with the kids and telling her story - the activities of comparing themselves to orangutans and building a nest worked really well too.
Essex Book Festival, UK - 2022