The Junior Biologist course is a free offering to Grade 6 learners with an interest in marine life and conservation who are looking for opportunities to experience the world of marine biology. This course is offered as part of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation's offering to learners from Grade 6 upwards, and was made possible by the generous support of I&J, who make many of our Marine Science Academy courses possible.

Fifty-four learners were able to take part in the Junior Biologist course this year, which ran over four consecutive weekends following the recent school holidays.

The course began with a brief guided tour of the Aquarium, and an introduction to the broad range of topics we'd be covering during the course. These topics would include life processes, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, plate tectonics and oceanography. 

Learners went on an outing to the Greenpoint Park and Biodiversity Showcase Garden. Here, groups of learners were given a fynbos plant to identify in the Garden, which they would then need to report back on to their classmates.

The students then walked to the stretch of rocky coastline at Mouille Point to explore the rockpools and learn about the animals and seaweeds found in this ecosystem.

Back at the Aquarium, we continued with the rest of the programme which included fynbos diversity, marine ecosystems, and the biology of sea plants and echinoderms - putting what the children had seen on their outings into perspective.

The next weekend the class headed back to the coast to join the Trash Bash beach cleanup. Students were very excited to participate in the beach cleanup which was also very well attended by the public.

Classroom topics for the day included sharks and fish, an interactive sustainability game, the wetland ecosystem and explained the functions and great value of these ecosystems. The last theory for the day was around reptiles with shells, namely terrapins, turtles and tortoises. The main objective was to identify and understand the general differences between the three groups.

Deputy Head of Education Bianca Engel introduced the Junior Biologists to Harry the mole snake.

The day ended with a very special visit from an aquarist and two penguins! The students were thoroughly impressed with the African and rockhopper penguins and had many questions about penguins for the aquarist.

The final day of the course seemed to be the learners' favourite because it was packed with practical activities. After writing their final assessment, teachers led the learners in an indigenous knowledge stories activity, where students had to reenact various stories told by indigenous people in front of the class. This was fun and required teamwork and creativity while using props and drama skills.

Because it was the final day of the course, we went into the Aquarium to watch the I&J Ocean Exhibit feeding time, with Educator Kirshia Koumbatis doing a presentation about kelp forests in front of the Kelp Forest Exhibit.

At the end of the day, students wrote a final test on the content they learned and we are pleased to announce that all fifty-four participating Grade 6s passed! We had a small certificate ceremony, thanked all involved including our wonderful volunteer helpers, and said farewell to the new Junior Biologist graduates of 2019. We are extremely grateful to our course sponsors, I&J, for the opportunity they afforded these fifty-four young people.

As with other Marine Science Academy courses, all participants wrote a pre-assessment at the start of the course and then again, right at the end. The average for the pre-course test was 46%, with a post-course test result of 72%. This was a clear indication that the learners had limited prior knowledge and learnt a great deal along the way.

We received many positive responses about the course from parents and from the learners. The learners' feedback included comments about how grateful they were for the great opportunity, how they made new friends and enjoyed the experience overall. 

“Thank you so much for everything, Tyler really enjoyed the course immensely and has been spilling out facts non-stop. The enthusiasm and passion has been amplified. Thank you." Heike

“Amber-Rose and I would just like to say thank you again for a fabulous few weeks of learning and fun!  She loved the experience as a whole and one of her highlights was meeting so many new people.  She also enjoyed the comparison between the fish and shark experience and also the jellyfish information. That may sound vague...heehee...we we definitely got a lot of feedback and explanations at home which was so lovely. Again, please thank your team for all their efforts and enthusiasm. Kindest regards, Karen."

“Thank you for a wonderful course! Isabel thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the Grade 6 course and hopes to do the Grade 7 one next year. We are so sad it is over now. Thanks so much for everything, she has gained so much valuable knowledge!!! Kind regards, Claire”

Other educational opportunities:

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.

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