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.

Schools represented included Lavender Hill Secondary School (Retreat), Atlantis Secondary School (Atlantis), Breërivier Secondary School (Worcester), Malibu Secondary School (Blue Downs), Sarepta Secondary School (Kuilsrivier), Manzomthombo Secondary School (Blue Downs) and Luhlaza Secondary School (Khayelitsha).

The workshop kicked off with a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens. After a short ice-breaker, the Iimbovane team launched into the plant diversity of the Fynbos biome, the identification of different plant groups, and how the plants are adapted to different conditions. It was not all theory, and learners were taken on an interpretative walk during which they had to complete practical tasks. After a long day of hands-on learning,learners braved the newly built “Boomslang” canopy walkway to get a glimpse of the indigenous forest. Freshwater biodiversity was also on the programme, and despite freezing water temperatures, learners were enthusiastic about exploring the aquatic environment and its insects. Learners were shown how to use invertebrate sampling with a combination of abiotic factors to determine the health of the middle reaches of the Eerste River in Stellenbosch.


A favourite activity of the workshop was the microscope session, where learners were each given their own microscope. During this activity, learners had to work their way through basic keys to identify insects. This activity is very valuable for the learners, as it gives them a real experience of working with a microscope, and teaches them how to recognise morphological features of insects and the use of an identification key.

The workshop is also designed to spike the interest of high school learners to continue with studies in biological sciences, especially biodiversity science at university level. 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.

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)

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