• Post category:2014 / News
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21 July 2014 | By Dorette du Plessis

In July this year, the Iimbovane Outreach Project introduced 30 Life Science learners to the wonders of biodiversity, during two workshops held at the Centre for Invasion Biology.

The workshops titled, Big on Biodiversity, took place from 30 June to 4 July 2014, and were attended by learners from Lavender Hill Secondary School (Retreat), Atlantis Secondary School (Atlantis), Breërivier Secondary School (Worcester), Malibu Secondary School (Blue Downs), Vusisizwe Secondary School (Worcester), Sarepta Secondary School (Kuilsrivier), Manzomthombo Secondary School (Blue Downs) and Luhlaza Secondary School (Khayelitsha).

Together with the Iimbovane project team, the learners took part in activities in different ecosystems.  Learners were introduced to the rich diversity of the fynbos biome during a visit to the Helderberg Nature Reserve and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Here learners were given the opportunity to make their own plant books, which they could use, back home to recognise commonly found fynbos plant species. Putting flowers aside, learners were also shown how to collect terrestrial invertebrates using different methods. Freshwater biodiversity was also on the programme and despite freezing water temperature, learners were enthusiastic about exploring the aquatic environment and its insects in the middle reaches of the Eerste River.

The workshops also gave the learners a glimpse at “life as a student” on a university campus. Learners were taken on a campus tour and shown the different faculties and the courses each faculty offered, as well as a visit to the underground library.

The learners left for home having a greater understanding of the importance of biodiversity and how we unconsciously rely on it in our daily lives. Based on feedback from the learners’ experiences of the activities, the microscope sessions were a hit with the learners. This session also provided them with valuable skills.

Our learners’ experiences of the Big on Biodiversity workshops:

“The workshop was extremely helpful; working with actual microscopes was great. The fieldwork was awesome, as it made me realize how precious those animals are and also how human activities can affect animals’ habitats.”
(Learner from Sarepta Secondary School)
“How to really really use a microscope and ways to differentiate different species of ants.”
(Learner from Luhlaza High School)
“I’ve learnt that ants are very important to us even if they’re small, and that we must value biodiversity.”
(Learner from Vusisizwe Secondary School)

For more information about the Iimbovane Outreach Programme, visit https://blogs.sun.ac.za/iimbovane/