A new topic in the South African Gr 11 Life Sciences curriculum is Human Impact on the Environment. The Environmental Capacity Building, Training & Education at City of Cape Town (CCT), Headed by Linda Buirski have run excellent environmental education projects in the past and this project has allowed us to align an environmental project directly with the curriculum.
Life Sciences teachers and learners have been able to see what the CCT is doing to reduce the impact of humans on the environment and allowed learners to gain knowledge and skills that will help them, not only with the content to be covered in the curriculum, but also to consider what and how individuals can find solutions to environmental problems and through collaboration, allowed them to learn new ICT skills.
The project started off with a mini conference for 50 Life Sciences teachers held in May at Bishops. At this conference 12 schools chose to participate in this project. Working in pairs each group chose one topic from:
- Food Security
- Loss of Biodiversity
- Atmosphere and Climate Change
- Solid Waste management
Partnered schools were taken on a field trip organised by Lindie Buirski to see the problems / solutions at source. The groups visited the Coastal Park Landfill site, The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, the Oranjezicht Urban Farm , the Westlake River to see water management in action or visited the Eskom Resource Centre in Bellville.
Groups met on 3 Saturday afternoons in June, September and October to plan, set up social media accounts to communicate and plan their research and create a video storyboard and then to put their final video together with much help from Sally Wilson head of Bishops ICT department and ICT educator extraordinaire. All videos are available from this site and also on the BiologyZA YouTube channel (if your students have created videos on aspects of the Life Sciences curriculum it would be great if they too could be added to this channel). Please view their videos and add your comments.
A second focus of this project was to encourage boys at Bishops to work collaboratively in groups of 3-4 to research one of the topics described above and create a way (eg Website, PowerPoint, business cards, QR code, eBook) to present their research. In class they had to lobby for their share of ‘’funding’’ for their solutions (1 Fizzer sweet = R100 000.00). Some of their projects can also be viewed on this site.
In this project learners from 12 schools have been exposed to real world problems and have had to collaborate to research and find solutions. They have learnt content knowledge and also how to deal with other people in groups, how to share information and resources through social media and how to plan and make a video or in the case of the Bishops boys , a website. The boys from Bishops also had to share the resources developed with their classmates to use as study aids.
A requirement of the curriculum is that they do a project on one aspect of Human Impact on the Environment that is relevant to their community and this project has ensured that they have done this in an valuable, authentic and fun way.