Thabo Sabeko, our Oceans in Motions Outreach Teacher, has for some time had a vision to present the content of the Two Oceans Aquarium Environmental Education Centre’s enrichment courses to Khayelitsha students. In particular, he wanted to present the lessons about water, waste and the environment, as he felt these topics were relevant in this community.

Despite the courses being open to all interested students who apply, we often find that students from Khayelitsha do not attend due to transport costs or parents not wanting their children to travel to Cape Town alone. This is the first four-day holiday course to be offered in the community, and hopefully not the last.

Thabo selected Kuyasa Primary School to be the pilot project for the course as he has a good rapport with the teachers already. The teachers were asked to select 60 grade 6 students to attend. In the end, 30 attended.

All the content was presented in Xhosa by Thabo and Wandiswa Jonga to ensure that students understood the content. They were further supported by Aquarium staff members Fikile Sizwenya and Chanelle Naidoo and Aquarium volunteer Aviwe Godongwana.

On the first day of the enrichment course, we dealt with water on our planet, where water comes from, how it is utilised and how we can save water. The latter was done as a group project where the students were tasked with creating a poster on how they can save water.

Day one ended with a lesson on our rocky shore ecosystem, in preparation for the visit to Strandfontein Pavilion the following day.

The second day started with a presentation from the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) about water safety and basic CPR.

Then we made our way to Strandfontein Pavilion. At the beach, the students were divided into groups and each group was given a rocky shore identification sheet to check off the animals and plants as they found them, as well as a clear plastic container in which to place some of the animals and plants, for discussion later on.

We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of life in the rock pools just behind the tidal pool, and the students took to the activity with enthusiasm.

The students had a short break at the bus and then once again, in groups, went to the beach. This time, they were armed with refuse bags to collect all the litter they could find.

The third day’s theme was waste and wetlands. After having seen the litter they picked up at the beach, we wanted the students to do a litter audit at their school to see what the main found litter items were.

This was quite an eye opener to the students, who commented during the report back that they eat a lot of sweets and chips at school.

Then followed a presentation on wetlands and different types of waste, where it goes and the impact that it has on the environment and our health. Instead of taking the students to a pristine wetlands area we took them to the local, recently proclaimed Khayelitsha Wetlands Park so that they could recognise this as an ecosystem in their own community. We hope that, due to the effort of this course, the children, their schools and community, will take ownership of the area.

At the wetland, Thabo continued the presentation by showing students the reeds and plants typically found in this environment, and we also did a bit of bird watching.

The next activity took the students to the Coastal Park landfill site to see where most of the waste collected from their area and surrounding suburbs is taken. This was an eye opener for the students as well as for some of the staff who had not been to a landfill site before.

On the last day of the course, the students were brought by bus to the Aquarium and given a guided tour by Fikile. This was followed by a boat trip, kindly sponsored by Ocean Adventurer. This was a highlight for many of the kids, despite not seeing many animals, as most of the students had not been on a boat before.

Each student was given a certificate of participation at the end before we bid them goodbye. Staff and volunteers agreed that this is definitely a worthy course to continue.

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