Iimbovane puts the “life” back into life sciences for science educators Print

The year 2010 had an early start for life science educators taking part in the Iimbovane outreach project, with an invigorating hands-on workshop that was held on the 7th – 8th January. The workshop was aimed at educators who recently joined the project, including those from five new schools who joined the project in 2009. Several of the schools will implement the project with little support from the project team and it was therefore essential that educators be trained on utilising the tools of the Iimbovane starter kit and the know-how to sustain the project at their respective schools.

The programme kicked off with a short history of the project followed by lectures on issues surrounding South African biodiversity and current biodiversity research. To the delight of the educators, it was not all theory but also about getting their hands dirty in the field. Mont Rochelle nature reserve which is located on the slopes of the Franschoek Mountains provided the educators with a picturesque venue for planting pitfalls and performing vegetation surveys. A fascinating session on ant biology and taxonomy in the form of image-based Ant Identification Key, paved the way for educators to practise their identification skills on ant samples they collected from the field. The final session of the workshop presented the educators with educational resources such as worksheets and activity sheets that were developed for the project.

The workshop ended with much appreciation from all educators who expressed satisfaction at having gained in-depth scientific insight and practical ways to rejuvenate life sciences at their schools. Importantly, educators left the workshop feeling energized with fresh ideas to spice up their biodiversity lessons!