The Two Oceans Aquarium is extremely excited to announce the brand new Smart Living Challenge Zone. Open to the public from today, Monday 14 December, the Smart Living Challenge Zone consists of four interactive digital installations that address the sustainable management of energy, water, waste and biodiversity.

The Smart Living Challenge Zone is located after the Penguin Exhibit of the Two Oceans Aquarium. Photo by Bruce Sutherland

Developed in partnership with the City of Cape Town, this interactive zone is an exciting initiative that aims to educate children and adults alike on making smarter choices in their daily lives to preserve and protect the environment. The messaging in each of the installations has been kept purposefully simple so that children can understand and apply them.

Photo by Bruce Sutherland

“We hope that these installations and the associated messages will spark conversations between children and their parents and that they will leave the Aquarium with a few easy tips to start making smart choices in their homes, schools and places of work,” says Two Oceans Aquarium Communications & Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart.

“Our busy lives direct our focus away from the fact that our existence depends completely on nature,” she continues. “All living beings, including humans, animals and plants, are part of the complex web of life. Each one can only thrive if others are also able to do so.

“By choosing to live smart we recognise the rights of all present living beings to live a quality life of sufficiency without compromising future generations while remaining within the carrying capacity of the earth.”

What is the Smart Living Challenge Zone?

Comprised of four digital installations, visitors are asked to interact with the content through state-of-the-art technology.

The energy exhibit is a 3D cityscape onto which various scenarios are projected. Through an interactive challenge, visitors learn about the different types of power generation and are challenged to make choices around energy-efficient city planning.

The biodiversity exhibit shows visitors how their actions impact on an ecosystem, specifically the Cape Floral Region. Some of the negative issues addressed include illegal dumping and invasive species. Positive actions include composting, planting indigenous species, and avoiding toads and frogs on roads.

The waste installation encourages visitors to become aware of how their shopping choices contribute to the production of waste, which ends up at landfill sites. Visitors scan barcodes to learn about smarter choices that are better for the environment and ultimately for humans as well.

The water touch screen challenges visitors to answer a series of questions in order to stop leaking pipes and dripping taps in an animated plumbing system. The goal is to fix as many leaks simultaneously so that the water savings tank fills up to the top. It will require multiple visitors to work as a team to win the game!

The four installations were created by Cape Town company Formula D Interactive. “Effectively conveying messages, communication and learning through interactive exhibits is a cornerstone of Formula D Interactive’s philosophy, experience and expertise. Our work aims at taking visitor attractions, museums, aquariums and science centre design to the next level by applying 21st Century learning concepts and cutting edge technology,” says founder Michael Wolf.

“Since opening in 1995,” says Two Oceans Aquarium CEO Michael Farquhar, “we have established ourselves as a key player in raising environmental awareness through our high-quality exhibits and our conservation and education programmes. These initiatives are largely made possible through partnerships with organisations which choose to align themselves with our objectives.”

From left: Lindie Buirski, Michael Farquhar and Councillor Dave Bryant. Photo by Bruce Sutherland

A long-standing partnership

This is not the first time that the Aquarium has collaborated with the City of Cape Town on environmental education initiatives. Previous projects include the Children’s Puppet Theatre, which opened in 2003 and ran until 2007, and the Frogs: Beyond the Pond exhibit, which opened in 2008 and closed earlier this year.

“The Smart Living Challenge Zone and associated education programme is a very innovative approach to educating the citizens of Cape Town,” says Head of Environmental Capacity Building, Training & Education of the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department Lindie Buirski. “My hope is that this partnership programme between the Two Oceans Aquarium and the City of Cape Town will inspire and challenge people of all ages to start their green journey, taking action by making at least one positive behavioural change. Something as simple as saying no to the use of a straw with your cold drink will make a difference.”

“Given its role as a leading education facility and top tourist attraction in Cape Town, the Aquarium is perfectly situated to align itself with the aims of the City and in particular to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the synergy which exists with the City’s Smart Living Campaign,” says Farquhar. “The Aquarium in turn can assist the City in disseminating this vital information to its citizens so that it can establish itself as one of the leading sustainable cities in the world.”

“It is particularly important for our children to be educated about their responsibility in protecting the environment, as they are the next generation who will be tasked with carrying the baton to promote the sustainable use of our natural resources,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Environmental and Spatial Planning, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Inspiring change beyond the walls of the Two Oceans Aquarium

The Smart Living Challenge Zone will complement the Smart Living education programmes being run by the Aquarium’s Environmental Education Centre. These include courses for Grade 7 learners (four courses have been completed thus far) as well as a travelling exhibit, which visits schools.

Photo by Bruce Sutherland

A puppet show, I Live Smart, with complementary puppet story book, has also been developed to teach younger children about the principles of smart living. The book is available on-site at the Aquarium as well as online, and forms part of a series of three educational books for little ones.

The puppet show also visits schools – email puppetbooks@aquarium.co.za for more information.

Visit us to see this wonderful exhibit for yourself

The Smart Living Challenge Zone is located after the Penguin Exhibit of the Two Oceans Aquarium. Come and play the games yourself and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear what you’ve learnt and what you want to share with the rest of the Mother City’s citizens.

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