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Iimbovane in brief Print

Iimbovane is a science education project that uses biodiversity (ant species mainly) to teach high school learners about the natural environment and how science works. In doing so, the project sparks the youth’s interest in biodiversity whilst engaging them in the scientific method to help develop valuable practical science skills. The project further supports learners develop much-needed life skills such as communication, critical thinking, practical science skills as well as working in a diverse teams to solve research questions.

Iimbovane does this through curriculum linked lessons at schools, field investigations in schoolyards, tailored-made day programmes, and holiday programmes in nature reserves and parks. Life Science educators are supported through training workshops and the development of supplimentary teaching aids.

The key objectives of Iimbovane are to:

  • Educate learners on how science works through active participation
  • Help learners develop life skills such as communication, critical thinking skills, practical science skills as well as collaborative problem solving skills
  • Promote science as an interesting and attractive career
  • Provide training and support to Life Science educators
  • Enhance learners’ appreciation of biodiversity and the natural environment
From Iimbovane learner to computer whizz Print

Science affects us all. Its applications is interwoven in our daily lives – from the food that we eat to the computers that we use every day. Although science as a subject may be daunting for some of us, a nudge in the right direction is all that is needed sometimes to send us on an interesting career path.This is one of the lessons we learnt from one of our Iimbovane alumni, Mphefumlo Anathi.

When Iimbovane recently reconnected with a few budding scientists, Anathi a former high school learner at uMyezo waMa Apile High School in Grabouw who also took part in Iimbovane in Grade 10, was happy for us to interview him on how his first year at college is unfolding.

Choosing science as a subject at school impacted his life and career choice as he is currently studying towards a qualification in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Computer Sciences at the False Bay College in Khayelitsha. Anathi’s favourite subjects at college are Mathematics, Electronics and Systems Development.

When asked what is the biggest difference between school and college? He highlights the following:

“At a college I consistently focus on my studies because this is where my future starts. At college I am gaining theoretical knowledge as well as practical experience.”

We were interested to know if there were any skills that he learned during his Iimbovane participation that are beneficial to his studies currently, and to this he responded:

“Yes, I’ve learned using microscope and I have also learnt about different types of species. But most importantly, I learned how to use a computer to prepare presentations and practiced 
how to present my work to other learners, and now to students. This is coming in very handy now at college.”

On his highlights of the programme he responded to say:

“I will always remember the fynbos as it was my first time to see all the different species from close up. Being on a university campus, working in a university laboratory and staying in a university residence showed me what it would be like to be a student.”

Anathi, is a real inspiration to take on Information Technology as career and we at Iimbovane wish him all the best and we will follow how his career develops!

Science educator of the future Print

When the Iimbovane Project recently reconnected with a few of its alumni, Romeo Nissen, who participated in Iimbovane as Grade 10 learner at Swartberg Secondary School in Caledon, agree to share his experiences as a varsity student.

Data collected by Iimbovane learners and educators contribute to research Print

Data collected by educators and learners participating in the Iimbovane Outreach Project contributed to an article that was recently published in the scientific journal, Journal of Animal Ecology.

Between 2006 and 2014, learners and educators at various Western Cape schools helped researchers with the collection of ant species. The ant species together with relevant environmental data were collected at Iimbovane study sites including national parks, nature reserves and the schoolyards of the participating schools.

Iimbovane alumnus pursues his passion for science Print

“I've always loved biology as I found it truly interesting. I was motivated by being part of Iimbovane! I saw myself at varsity after attending the project.” – Azole Klaas

These are the words of Iimbovane alumnus, Azole Klaas, who decided to pursue his passion for science after high school. Azole is currently a first year student at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and is doing a BSc degree with majors in Biochemistry, Human Anatomy and Physiology. His undergraduate degree consist of a variety subjects from basic biology to statistics.

Celebration as Iimbovane receives funding from the Mapula Trust Print
Iimbovane's efforts to deliver hands-on biodiversity education to the youth recently received a welcome boost, thanks to a generous donation from the Mapula Trust.

Iimbovane gives SANParks Junior Rangers a close-up look at park’s ant diversity Print

Iimbovane took to the Karoo National Park, Beaufort West, to host a workshop for their Junior Rangers on the ant diversity of the park.

The SANParks Junior Rangers are a programme for young volunteers aged between 12 and 18 that have a passion for conservation. They participate in the youth development programme of the South African National Parks (SANParks) for an entire year where they become exposed to the park’s functions and activities that include talks from experts in conservation, and after which they are awarded with a certificate of completion.

New addition to Iimbovane Project Team Print

Etienne grew up in Stellenbosch, where he studied Biodiversity and Ecology at the Stellenbosch University. After graduation, Etienne worked with various NGOs, including Gondwana Alive(www.gondwanaalive.org) , Rim of Africa (https://rimofafrica.co.za/) and Earthchild Project (http://www.earthchildproject.org/), where he was responsible for coordinating and facilitating their environmental programmes.

Gardening for biodiversity Print

Summer is here and where could be a better place to experience authentic natural beauty than our local botanical gardens?

Although the ants were out and about, we wanted to entice a community of residents from the Camphill Village West Coast, a community for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, to the remarkable diversity of plants and the importance of their conservation.

Iimbovane keeps inspiring young biodiversity enthusiasts Print

Another school holiday means another Iimbovane workshop! In the first week of October, 19 learners from six Western Cape schools were invited to spend part of the October school holiday camping amongst the pines with the Iimbovane team.

Clearing Acacias for Mandela Day Print

In celebration of Mandela Day on July 18th, staff members of DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) joined a group of 150 volunteers who gave their time to help with projects at Camphill Village West Coast.

Biodiversity beyond what the eye can see Print

On the 2nd July 2018, 20 intrepid learners, from ten schools across Western Cape, braved icy temperatures to travel to Stellenbosch for Iimbovane’s “Biodiversity beyond what the eye can see” workshop.

Mobilising next generation woman scientists Print

On 25 May 2018, a group of ten highly motivated Grade 11 girls, visited the C·I·B and the Department of Botany and Zoology to learn more about women in science. This event, which forms part of the annual Cell- C Take a Girl Child initiative, gave the girls from Vusisizwe Secondary School in Worcester, the opportunity to interview a variety of women about their careers, the highlights and challenges that come with their jobs and why they chose these careers.

Iimbovane educates on “Water Matters” Print

Early April brought about the successful execution of Iimbovane’s first ever water-focused workshop, in Stanford, Western Cape. Seventeen Grade 10 ladies from five Cape town-based schools joined us for a week out in nature - the best classroom.

Marching on… Print

The month of March was an exciting time for the Iimbovane team, filled with outreach activities, school visits and capacity building. Here below are some of the highlights.

Iimbovane assists in creating an educational resource on aliens and invasions for all Print

Last year Iimbovane collaborated with WESSA to produce an issue of the EnviroKids magazine, themed “Understanding alien plants and animals in South Africa”.

Celebrating Environmental Day with Rijk Tulbagh Primary Print

Word of mouth took Iimbovane and the Cape Leopard Trust to the beautiful foothills of Tulbagh to visit the Rijk Tulbagh Primary School on their Environmental Day. On the agenda was exploring biodiversity and the threats posed by invasive plants and animals with Iimbovane and raising awareness about Cape leopards with the Cape Leopard Trust.
From Spotted Cats to Hairy Ants! Print

The Cape Leopard Trust is, a well-known non-governmental, non-profit organisation that focuses on innovative research, conservation and education projects, all established to facilitate and promote biodiversity conservation (https://capeleopard.org.za/about).  It was co-founded by Dr Quinton Martin. Sharing the same funder as Iimbovane, Rand Merchant Bank- we decided to join forces and see what we can learn from each other’s holiday programs. The month of July saw the first collaborative activity between Iimbovane and the Cape Leopard Trust.


Biodiversity training from a learner’s perspective Print

After her first encounter with an Iimbovane workshop at Scifest 2017, Ayla van der Merwe, a Gr.10 learner from St Patricks Christian Brothers' College (Kimberly) came to visit the Iimbovane Outreach Project for two weeks as a volunteer to experience life as a scientist.

During her visit she was part of the Big on Biodiversity holiday program presented by the Iimbovane project team.

At the end of her stay with Iimbovane Ayla gave a summary of her experience:

Book donation boosts Iimbovane ant project Print

The Iimbovane Outreach Project has received a generous donation of books, which will be used to help in the teaching of biodiversity science to the high school learners.

The donation of 50 copies of the first ever guide to ants of southern Africa, was made possible by the Mapula Trust and the author, Peter Slingsby. While Peter is well renowned for his maps, he is also an avid ant enthusiast and author of several books on rock art of the southern Cape and Cederberg.

So, how do I become an “Ant-ologist”? Iimbovane inspires future scientists Print

From the eleventh to the fourteenth of March this year, the Iimbovane team could be found at the Albany Museum, in Grahamstown. Here they facilitated their “Awed by Ants” workshop, chosen as one of close to 80 workshops to present at this year’s SciFest Africa – South Africa’s largest national science festival.

Iimbovane impresses Touwsrivier Primary’s aspiring scientists! Print

On Friday the 17th February 2017, eleven intrepid pupils from Touwsrivier Primary School’s Science and Maths Club joined Iimbovane for a short workshop, at Stellenbosch University.  The pupils ranged in age from twelve to fourteen.

Exciting news in the “Ant World”! Print

In a few short days, a new ant book will be available on the shelves! In his book, titled “Ants of Southern Africa”, Peter Slingsby took years of one of his pet passions in life to the next level, and complied this insightful book.  It will be the first ever published field guide of Southern African ants.

Iimbovane team sparks interest in biodiversity science at careers expo Print

The Iimbovane Outreach Project was amongst a flock of exhibitors that were hosted at the SANBI Harold Porter Botanical Garden and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on the 11th August 2016 for the annual Biodiversity Careers Expo 2016.

This annual event aims at showcasing careers in biodiversity and environmental sciences for Grade 10 Life Science learners from schools in the Overberg District. The garden and venue were vibrant with nearly 260 learners who took part in the event.

Learners experience ‘biodiversity in action’ with Iimbovane Print
The Western Cape has a lot to boast about when it comes to biodiversity, and who better than the youth who will be protecting it one day! In support of this, the Iimbovane Outreach Project hosted a “Big on Biodiversity” workshop at Stellenbosch University between the 27th June and 1st July 2016. The aim of the workshop was to engage Grade 10, Life Science learners in biodiversity science and to make it practical with hands-on investigations.

The workshop was attended by 32 learners from 13 schools across the Western Cape.

C·I·B and Iimbovane Take a Girl Child to Work Print

On the 26th May 2016 the DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B) and the Iimbovane Outreach Project participated in the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work initiative.

This initiative aims at providing young girls with information to equip them for making better, informed choices about the career choices. This year marks the 14th year since the inception of this initiative. The C·I·B and Iimbovane are regular participants in this annual event that supports the need to expose girls to the reality of the work environment.

SANPark junior rangers get “ant-wise” with Iimbovane Print

Ants play important roles in ecosystems, yet they often go unnoticed by visitors to the park and field rangers. To raise awareness of the importance and diversity of these tiny insects, the Iimbovane Outreach Project presented a training session for SANParks junior rangers in the Karoo National Park.

The session, titled “Amazing Ants of Karoo National Park”, gave the junior rangers an overview of the significant role that ants play in ecosystems and how scientists identify different species. The session also introduced the junior rangers to sampling methods, and through trying each method the rangers came to see the advantages and limitations of each method.

Iimbovane treats visitors with award-winning workshop at Scifest Africa 2016 Print

Did you know that ants have hair on their bodies? Or that some species build underground cities which go as deep as 8 meters deep? These were among the fascinating facts that were part of hands-on workshop entitled “Antastic!” held at Scifest Africa 2016 by team members of the Iimbovane Outreach Project.

Iimbovane welcomes new team member Print

The Iimbovane Outreach Project has added a new member to their growing team. The newest member of the team, Londiwe Msomi, will take the role of Education Outreach Officer. 

Getting the message across: The Iimbovane Outreach Project Print

The Iimbovane team tells Quest readers how ants are being used to teach learners about biodiversity...

Iimbovane participant catches the eye of the press Print
Leonne Adams, a  Stellenbosch University student, who has joined Iimbovane on various occasions (see article: Former Iimbovane participant to study B.Sc at Stellenbosch University), shines again.
All things bright and beautiful - Iimbovane showcases careers in biodiversity science Print

Both marine and terrestrial, science and conservation, fauna and flora, the whole spectrum of nature’s beauty was displayed at the annual Biodiversity Careers Expo held on the 6th August 2015 at Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, Betties bay. Here, Iimbovane’s display of microscopes and insects certainly attracted the attention of many.

Tiny Threats - Alien ants in our Fynbos Print
aliens in fynbos
Experiencing life in a laboratory with Iimbovane Print

While most other Maties students were off on their summer holidays, two hardworking BSc undergrads decided to stick around campus to do holiday work with Iimbovane Outreach Project.

Iimbovane gives career guidance to Overberg learners Print

The Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) Careers Expo is always a highlight on the Iimbovane Project’s calendar.  2014 was no exception and Iimbovane was there in full force – visible, active and interacting with learners from the Overberg education district.

Vusisizwe learners are Big on Biodiversity Print
While most Grade 10 learners were on holiday, a group of 15 learners from the Vusisizwe Secondary School, in Worcester, started the school holiday by attending a workshop to learn more about South African biodiversity.
Iimbovane trains young biodiversity enthusiasts Print

The Iimbovane Outreach Project recently hosted another Big on Biodiversity workshop, aimed at Grade 10 learners. On Wednesday 2 July 2014, the Iimbovane team welcomed 15 nervous learners from various schools in Cape Town area.

Grade 10 Life Science learners are scientists for a week Print

Twenty Grade 10 Life Science learners from no less than six different schools across the Western Cape region participated in the Iimbovane Outreach Project’s 4th annual winter week held at Stellenbosch University from the 9-12 July 2013.

Former Iimbovane participants continue with science at SU Print

One of the aims of Iimbovane is to encourage learners, especially female learners, to consider biological sciences as a field of study and ultimately as a career. Throughout their participation in the Iimbovane Outreach Project, the learners interact with scientists during regular schools visits and learnerworkshops.

A is for Ants…Home-scholars get ant-smart the Iimbovane way Print

In April 2013 the Iimbovane Outreach Project hosted, in collaboration with the Table Mountain National Park’s Environmental Education Programme, two workshops for a group of home-schooled learners.

Iimbovane workshop a hit with Hermanus learners Print

The Iimbovane project team recently held a workshop for the Grade 10 learners of Hermanus High School in Hermanus.

Sugar Ant schools receive teaching equipment from Iimbovane Print

The empowerment of life science educators and their learners through the donation of teaching equipment is a central part of what the Iimbovane Outreach Project does.

Former Iimbovane participant to study B.Sc at Stellenbosch University Print

One of Iimbovane’s aims is to inspire learners, especially girl learners, to consider tertiary studies and careers in the field of life sciences.

Iimbovane learners take award at International Science Fair Print

Two Iimbovane learners recently walked away with a special award at the 2012 International Science Fair with their project on ants. The learners were awarded by the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) for the Best Project in the Environmental Studies Category (Senior).

Iimbovane schools ace data analyses exercises Print

This year 2012 has been infused with more visual experiences than ever before for Iimbovane learners. First it was data collection in March whereby learners not only collected ant data from their school grounds but many also went along with the project team to nature reserves and national parks. For most learners, it was a new experience to be in such close proximity to untamed nature.