Phew, what an experience - we just completed our first face-to-face course of 2022, the Junior Biologist Course. The Junior Biologist Course took place over four Saturdays from 19 February to 12 March 2022. About three hundred applications were received for this course - from this we were able to accept 89 participants, of which we were able to sponsor the attendance of 53 (don't worry - there will be plenty of other opportunities for courses later this year).
This was the largest course group we'd ever accepted, which meant we had to pull out all stops! We could have done this without a troop of fantastic volunteers, whose roles entailed assisting the teachers with activity and resource preparation, as well as leading smaller group activities or tours inside the Aquarium or during the fieldtrip.
Highlights of the course would be the success of managing various activities considering the sheer size of the group. The favourite topics based on the student’s feedback were the penguins and the cephalopods. The Aquarium tours, and fieldtrip day where the students got to explore the natural habitats of the animals they learnt about the previous week. The students had the opportunity to meet young people from various backgrounds and created friendships during this time.
The first day of the course focussed on fundamental topics - the oceans, continents and currents. This day also included practical learning about the work done at the Aquarium and its Foundation.
By day two, topics were becoming a bit more detailed, looking at the octopus, turtle and shark families, and learning about sustainable fisheries with WWF SASSI. The practical highlights included squid and sardine specimen dissections, a tour of a working turtle rehabilitation facility, and a fun, interactive sustainability game, facilitated by teacher Wandiswa Jonga, reinforcing the importance of managing marine resources.
Day three kicked off with a lesson about wetlands and was concluded by playing a fun game of musical chairs which integrated the importance of food chains in ecosystems. Guide Fikile Sizwenya gave the groups a talk about the conservation of penguins in the ecosystem exhibit. The day ended with another first, Deputy Head of Education Bianca Engel livestreamed a life in rockpools lesson!
On the final day, the learners headed to Mouille Point rockpools to explore the local biodiversity. Thereafter the group walked across to the Greenpoint Biodiversity Garden, where they were given a fynbos plant to find in the garden along with any other additional information which they then presented to the whole group. Everyone joined up and completed the post-test and evaluation form before walking back to the lighthouse and concluding the program!