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.

Mini research projects

The 5-day workshop gave learners the chance to perform their own mini research projects in a variety of ecosystems. During these mini research projects the budding scientists learned how to collect, analyse, interpret and finally present data.

The mini research projects included insect sampling, assessing river health and monitoring fynbos vegetation, which involved a trip to the Helderberg Nature Reserve, in Somerset West. Jan-Hendrik Keet, PhD student at the DST-NRF Centre for Invasion Biology (C·I·B), treated the learners to a session on fynbos diversity and ecology.

He took learners into the veld and showed them the diversity of fynbos
species, as well as the different vegetation monitoring techniques.  

As one of the learners reflected,

“Today I have learnt about nature, what type of plants you find in fynbos. We studied different types of plants. We also determined the plant diversity of a nature reserve and the habitat structure of the vegetation and we measured the height of plant species.”

Back from the field, the Iimbovane team showed the learners how to use microscopes and scientific keys to identify types of insects. 

This was followed by a session in the computer laboratories, where learners learned basic computer skills.
As one learner describes the microscope  session, “Ek het  vandag geleer om insekte  deur ‘n mikroskoop uit te ken en te  identifiseer. Ek het dit nogals geniet.” 

Potential careers

Between all the hands-on science activities, learners also    experienced life on Stellenbosch University campus. They visited  the Neelsie Student Centre and many learners were surprised and  impressed by the Stellenbosch University underground library.

 “We also went to the library, which were very interesting. The   library was like big!”

A presentation by advisors from the Centre for Student Recruitment and Career Advice (http://www.maties.com/career-guidance.html) explained the enrolment procedures as well as the study opportunities that the University offers.