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:

" The Iimbovane workshop presented by the organisers was very educational and inspiring. With the help of volunteers, they taught a group of 40 learners a tonne of new knowledge. We studied the main factors of biodiversity, like: water,plants, invertebrates and organisms. On the first day we took a breathtakingly beautiful hike in Jonkershoek. We studied the awe inspiring waterfall and took note of its characteristics and, later on, compared it to two other sites further along the river. Not only that, we got to do some field work like colllecting and identifying inverterbrates as well as taking measurements of the precious water source.

On the next day, we tackled the flora of our biodiversity. We set out to do an invasive study on invasive alien plants found in the foothills of Stellenbosch Mountain. We used many different methods to study the plant diversity in each area and concluded that invasive plants are a big no-no for our vegetation.To end off the day on a sweet note, we went to the absolutely stunning SU Botanical Garden. The garden was very diverse in its flora. We also had a fun competition where we had to fill out a worksheet based on information that was found throught the garden. 

The next day saw us catching ants. My favorite part! After we successfully captured many ants using a variety of methods such as baiting, direct observation, pitfall traps and vacuuming, we set off to the laboratory to study them. Of corse the mentors gave us the 101 on using microscopes too. It was so interesting studying these terrestrial organisms. It's a whole new world! The second last day consisted of a lot of taxanomy and working with Excel and PowerPoint. This is the crucial part of any study. Taking all the data and processing it into useful information so that conclusions can be drawn and new knowledge is obtained.

On the last day we used this new information and presented it to the group of students as well as post- graduate students. The purpose of this workshop was to teach us that there is a lot of small things in the world that make it up entirely. We not only learned what biodiversity is, we saw what it is. The practical stimulation we recieved throughout this workshop will stay with us forever. This highlights of this workshop was working as a group to gain new intellect. Learning new things is always fun. It was indeed a fantastic way to widen our horizons".

Other learners attending the workshop commented as follows:

 "Fynbos is a place that has a variety of different kinds of species"
Mphefumlo Anathi from Umyezo Wama Apile Combined School in Grabouw.

"Die ding wat vir my oplettend was is dit insekte kan bepaal hoe vuil en skoon die water is" Cobus Nieuwoudt from Augsburg Gymnasium in Clanwilliam.