With the support of DHL, the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation is able to offer an outreach programme to under-resourced primary schools, bringing lessons about sustainability to Grade 6 and 7 learners. Known as "Smart Living" these lessons cover topics like energy, water, biodiversity and waste, and are designed to give learners a better understanding of the connections between their lifestyles and the environment, as well as tie in with their school CAPS curriculum.
We joined outreach teacher Anzio on a trip to a local primary school to reach Grade 6 and 7 learners all about energy - taking a detailed look at the energy we use in South Africa, and sustainable alternatives that we can look to in the future.
The lesson kicks off with an exploration of what exactly energy is, and what it is used for. From the chemical energy inside the human body or an electrical cell, to the electrical energy used in home appliances - kids look at the ways we make energy work for use, and convert it between its various forms.
Just like the food we eat, power stations consume raw materials to generate electricity. Examples of non-renewable energy are discussed, with South African examples like the Camden coal power station and Koeberg nuclear power plant used as case examples. The differences between fossil fuel and nuclear are highlighted, the emphasis placed on the need to balance the easy accessibility of cheap resources with the long term environmental effects of each type.
The class then moves on to renewable energy looking at wind, solar, hydro- and geothermal power. As with the earlier non-renewable sources, the class also learns about the advantages and disadvantages of each of these - notably, their smaller scale and often intermittent supply, which needs to be balanced against their much lower environmental impact.
By taking into account all factors, the class is left to come to its own conclusions about which energy sources are better (hint: it's the renewables), but are also left with a clearer and more realistic picture of just how we can get there as a country.