The annual Smart Living Course, sponsored by the City of Cape Town, is part of the Two Oceans Aquarium's Marine Sciences Academy reaching out to children in South African communities. It is proudly sponsored by the City of Cape Town.

The first Smart Living course of 2017 took place over five Saturdays from May through to June this year. The aim of the course was to provide learners with the knowledge and tools to live a little more smarter, and spread the message of sustainable living with a focus on four topics: biodiversity, water, energy and waste.

Awareness of environmental issues and an eagerness to take positive action were among the traits we were looking for in our Smart Living candidates. Included in the application was a pledge to lead two environmental actions upon completion of the course.

Along with previous Smart Living course teachers, Anzio Abels and Chanelle Naidoo, this year’s team included Wandiswa Jonga and Thabo Sabeko. Although this was the first time that Thabo and Wandiswa taught the Smart Living Course, they did a great job and added a new dynamic to the team with their personal styles of teaching. 

Learning Smart Living concepts

The first day of the course focused on the importance of biodiversity as a valuable natural resource. This included learning about various ecosystems and ecological concepts. The learners were taught about the threats facing biodiversity and what actions can be taken to protect it. This was followed by a visit to the Green Point Urban Park's Biodiversity Showcase Garden where learners could cement their knowledge through hands-on interaction.

At Greenpoint Urban Park, learners had the chance to learn about biodiversity and the threats it faces first hand.

The second day introduced the topic of water. Learners were taught how this precious resource gets to our taps and what happens to it once it goes down our drains. Considering that the Cape Town area is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, the significance of this topic was clear, with the current water crisis in the Cape Town area. Water-saving practices were thoroughly discussed and the learners came up with some of their own ideas on how to use water in a sustainable manner.

Energy was the topic for day three, where we looked at our current dependence on fossil fuels for electricity and transport. The environmental effects of burning fossil fuels were shown to learners to help them understand the need for cleaner, renewable sources of energy. They also had some fun learning how a generator works and making electricity using miniature wind turbines.

Day four focused on waste. It started with a visit to the Coastal Park landfill site near Muizenberg, where staff spoke to the learners about the history of landfill sites around Cape Town, their daily operations and how much landfill space remains. The learners were given a tour of the site and had the opportunity to see where most of our waste ends up after we throw it into a rubbish bin. They learned about the structure of a landfill and opportunities for turning waste into energy.

After every session, learners wrote an assessment on the previous weekend’s topic and the final day was no different.  This was followed by a briefing on how to plan and run an environmental action campaign, which was put into action with a cleanup of Mouille Point beach on the last day.

Putting knowledge into practice

With the learners equipped with the knowledge of sustainable living, they had to go out and lead their two environmental actions and teach others what they’ve learnt.  They were to return a month later and report back on what they had accomplished.

On 1 July, the learners returned to the Aquarium to present on their environmental actions. These included cleanups, planting of indigenous gardens and starting environmental clubs along with various other activities that raised awareness around the conservation of our natural environment and its resources.

After the presentations, the learners were awarded certificates for their completion of the course categorised according to the results of their assessments, ranging from Bronze to Diamond status.

We sincerely thank our sponsors, the City of Cape Town, for allowing us the opportunity to offer this course again, and for giving us the opportunity to spread the message and knowledge of Smart Living to another set of learners.

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