The Smart Living Outreach programme is an environmental education initiative of the Two Oceans Aquarium that is run in partnership with the City of Cape Town - taking "Smart Living" lessons to school children throughout the Western Cape. Four themes are covered, exploring water, waste, energy and "biodiversity in a South African context and teaching kids about how these factors affect their lives and environment.
We took to the road, following Smart Living Outreach Educator Anzio Abels and the mobile Smart Living Classroom to Willows Primary School where he had the opportunity to educate classes of grade 7s about energy.
The energy section of the Smart Living programme focusses on fostering an understanding of what energy is, where the electricity at home comes from and what we can do to use it more sustainably. The lesson begins with Anzio posing a simple question to the learners: “What is energy?”
"Energy is needed to do work." When you walk to school, you are using energy. When a fire boils water, it uses energy. When a lightbulb emits light and heat, it is using energy. Electricity is a form of energy – electrons are flowing and we can feel and detect the physical changes it causes in our environment.
For energy to become visible in a way that affects the world around us, we need to unlock potential energy". Learners are taught about the different types of power plants where this conversion takes place, and how each of these energy sources works.
Coal power stations, South Africa's main energy source, are explored first as an example of this process. How is the potential energy of the coal converted into kinetic energy to turn the turbines? Is burning coal the only way to move something?
The concept of renewable and non-renewable energy is discussed. Renewable energy does not use limited resources like coal, oil and uranium - instead it uses the abundant "free energy" provided by the sun, tides, wind and Earth's heat.
It's then onto lessons about the other types of electricity generators – nuclear, solar, geothermal, tidal and wind energy. Throughout this, learners are encouraged to think about the negative and positive aspects of each type of energy source.
Using this amazing "edukasie koffer", the energy use of various household items can be measured and displayed, like comparing old incandescent lightbulbs with modern CFL ones - an 80% energy saving! Other ways to save energy around the home are also discussed and the children are encouraged to engage as much as possible.
We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Department of Education and of course our ever-enthusiastic outreach teacher Anzio to bring this programme to learners from all walks of life. Only together can we build a better, more sustainable South Africa where "Smart Living" is the new normal.
Smart Living Outreach is only possible with the support and dedication of the passionate staff, teachers and principals who make opportunities like this available to the learners in their care. If you'd like the Two Oceans Aquarium to help you grow a "smart generation" at your school, simply contact us to arrange an outreach visit.
The City of Cape Town offers an amazing Smart Living Handbook for all those wishing to live a more sustainable life. A great resource!