From 9 to 13 July, 44 grade 8 learners joined the Two Oceans Aquarium's Marine Science Discoverers course. These young aspiring marine biologists and ocean scientists got to explore their passion by joining our Marine Science Academy programme, thanks to generous sponsorship from the American International School of Cape Town.

The course began with an introduction to South Africa's fantastic local marine environment, learning about its rich ecosystems and inhabitants.

Students receive a short presentation by Two Oceans Aquarium Teacher Chanelle Naidoo.

As they learned about the coastal ecosystems, the Earth's geology and tectonic systems were described - after all, these are the same processes that formed the coastlines we see today.

Students constructing a geological timescale on a till roll using the three eras

The second day of the course took the focus off of our coastal landscapes and put it onto the processes that have shaped life on Earth, including evolution, biology, symmetry and basic taxonomy. 

After a walk around the Aquarium looking for specific features of various animals, students learnt about classification and the use of scientific names. 

Marine molluscs were used as a case study. Their different categories were discussed with a focus on their adaptations within the Mollusca phylum. A combination of live and dead specimens were examined, as well as shells for each group. Learners studied the anatomy of squids, noting their adaptations, and how advanced or different they are from their snail-like cousins.

 These students have just found the beak of the squid.

The third day gave the Marine Science Discoverers a chance to combine the lessons they had learned about the ecology and environment of South Africa's rocky shores by looking at the factors that shaped the adaptations of life here. From the variability of the water's pH (acidity or alkalinity) to the climate and currents.

Students were given a lesson on pH, the importance of the pH of the ocean and how to interpret pH using three different liquids. Students were given a strip to test the liquid and compare it against the pH chart in order to find the pH.

Learners were given a lesson on pH levels, the importance of the ocean's pH and how to measure pH using three different liquids. They were given a litmus strip to test the liquid and compare it against the pH chart in order to find the pH.

Outreach Teacher Anzio Abels performed a demonstration to show the children the impacts of ocean acidification on marine animals. Here he uses vinegar on a sea urchin shell, which disintegrates within three days. Don't worry, this is a shell from an urchin that was already dead.

These factors were discussed in the context of a rocky shoreline, and learners were given the chance to interpret how these factors would affect the various parts of the ecosystem differently.

Students recreate the rocky shore profile in 2D, as Teacher Bianca Engel shares the highs and lows of this constantly changing ecosystem.

The fourth day of the course started with a closer look at macroalgae - seaweeds

Samples of seaweeds found along the rocky shore zones are placed on a tray for students to engage with. Students then place the seaweeds in the order they are generally found on the rocky shore on the 2D poster.

To end off day four, students were given articles to read and summarise. These articles varied from ocean pollution to shark finning. Each group had a different topic, however, each one linked to human impacts on the marine environment. The groups had to report back to the class explaining the causes, and solutions to some of these impacts. 

The final day of the course would put everything the learners had discovered so far together, by carrying out a thorough scientific investigation of an actual rocky shoreline at Mouille Point.

Bright and early! We arrived at the beach in the early morning, as it was spring low tide at that time. 

Students had to use quadrats to determine the plant and animal distribution across the rocky shore's profile.

Students place down their quadrat and start to identify and count the distribution of animals and plants in the quadrat

Once back at the Aquarium, learners had to choose a hypothesis, look at the data they had gathered, and prove or disprove their theories using scientific reasoning. 

They then had to design a poster showing the hypothesis, the finding and the conclusion. This was then presented to the class. 

This course aimed to increase an interest in science in general and to introduce the different elements that make up the fields of marine biology, ecology, oceanography and zoology. The feedback from the students was unanimous in praise for the enthusiastic presenters, the ability to work with real scientific equipment, to engage with real animals, meet new people, and to explore the marine ecosystem.

We are grateful to the American International School of Cape Town for providing the sponsorship which made this memorable experience possible.


Ocean education for your kids

There are many ways your children can get involved in environmental education opportunities at the Aquarium. Here are a few of the most popular options:

If you would like to make a booking for your class, get involved in one of the above courses or are an adult looking for training opportunities or to take part in our job shadowing programme, please visit our Environmental Education Centre portal for more information and the relevant contact details.

blog comments powered by Disqus