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.

Aside from providing academic enrichment, and sparking interest in biodiversity science. The workshop was also geared at introducing the learners to university life, and to gain new perspectives on tertiary education, its requirements, and to answer any relevant questions they might have. These aims were fulfilled through conducting various biodiversity related studies in natural areas in and around Stellenbosch, while staying on campus and making use of the University’s biology and computer laboratories.

A highlight for many was a daytrip to Bloubergstrand to study the mussel invasion on the rocky shores. While the water was far too frigid for swimming, it was a clear, windless day, allowing for ample time to meander around the rocky shores and take a closer look at the biodiversity they hold. After collecting data on the relative abundance of native and non-native species, and recording the size of the native limpet, our learners went back to the computer laboratory and used their recently acquired computer skills to compare their data with historical data from the exact site, recorded 38 years ago. It was clear that mussels had dramatically altered the biodiversity in the area.

Another highlight, that came to be a test of physical strength for a few, was a hike to the waterfalls in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The learners were amazed by the dramatic views of snow-capped mountains and eagerly began the walk. Their efforts were not in vain as they were met with the site of the full waterfall gushing down the rocks. This hike was not without a purpose. After seeing the pristine source of the Eerste River, the group then visited a lower section of the river, sampled macroinvertebrates, and used a simple scoring system to test the health of the river.

Beyond the biodiversity studies, our learners were also exposed to campus life, by staying in a university residence, walks through campus, a library tour and a presentation from the Stellenbosch University Recruitment office. Pictured below is Prof. Gillian wowing the learners with his maths tricks while talking about Stellenbosch University admission requirements. 

When we asked the learners what they thought about the workshop, Franzelle Jaftha from Gerrit du Plessis in Riversdale said “I just wanted to say the workshop was very interesting. It made me more curious to know more about biodiversity, I’ve learned a lot. The workshop made me realise that there are many things in life we need to take care of by studying everything of each thing, for example the Limpets, I personally never noticed that limpets gets smaller and smaller but now I know and it made me curious to find out more things. It as a nice, interesting and lovely workshop. Thank you.”