At the start of the school holiday in the first week of August, our Conservation Education lesson was planned so as to help pupils develop the skill of asking relevant scientific questions. The students were provided with non-fictional books which were based on nature and environmental conservation. After each student had selected a book, they were put in pairs and had exactly 20 minutes to study an animal, plant or natural phenomena from their books. Each student was then given paper to draw and/or write the facts they just learned on one side. On the other side of the paper, they were asked to write five questions which could be answered by reading the facts on the other side.
Each student was required to study their partner’s findings without looking at the questions for five minutes and, once done, they flipped the papers over to answer the questions without looking at the facts again.
The following week, the lesson focused on discussing how human actions have contributed to the extinction and endangerment of some species. During the discussion, volunteers and pupils talked about how humans have overexploited some resources, without paying much attention to the negative effects of those actions. The lesson used elephants and rhino as examples, with the class discussing why their numbers have been declining due to human action. The lesson concluded by discussing how humans can play a role in protection, and making sure that species can thrive in their natural habitats.
Reptiles and Insects
Having built a good platform for pupils to ask relevant scientific questions in previous weeks, this lesson aimed at helping them understand both the ecological and economic significance of insects and reptiles. The class was split into two groups, with one focusing on insects and the other reptiles. The groups were provided with books containing basic information on these two animal classes.
Each group discussed the importance of their animal class to the environment and to humans, before presenting their findings to the other group.
Pollination and Seed dispersal
We concluded the month of August by talking about the process of pollination and how seeds are dispersed.
After forming two groups, one was asked to discuss the purpose of petals and stamen, while the other focused on sepal and carpel. After 10 minutes, each group then shared what they learned to the rest of the class. The two groups were further asked to discuss how seeds are well adapted for dispersal by wind, water, and by animals through consumptive and non-consumptive ways. The lesson concluded by briefly discussing how humans can help to pollinate and disperse threatened plant species.
About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project
Our conservation education syllabus was developed by ALERT in partnership with Coventry University and David Brackstone of John Taylor High School. Evaluation of the effectiveness of the syllabus in changing attitudes towards a more positive view of conservation has been undertaken by Coventry University as well as by Ruth Armstrong, of Edinburgh Napier University. ALERT has also established a tripartite agreement between ALERT, Copperbelt University (Zambia) and Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) to improve conservation education provision in these two countries.
The syllabus has four main objectives:
- to increase participants’ awareness of their environment and assist them in developing sound judgement in the management of natural resources;
- to involve participants in activities to increase their understanding of environmental issues;
- to encourage participants to develop the ability to view situations from an environmental point of view, and to undertake simple investigations and interpret the results, and;
- to emphasize to participants the potential of the environment as a source of benefits and therefore something to conserve, manage and sustain.
This work combines science with local knowledge, to ensure we deliver a conservation education curriculum that positively impacts upon students’ attitudes and behaviours, and is culturally appropriate for the children and communities we reach.
About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)
Conservation Education is one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres. The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students. Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy. In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students. Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training. The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK). The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.
Join us at the AEC
ALERT offers a Conservation Education internship for those keen to gain hands-on teaching experience, while contributing to the protection and preservation of Africa’s wildlife. Interns will help in preparing and delivering lessons both in the classroom and on field trips. The syllabus encompasses environmental conservation, ecology and biodiversity, sustainability, and wildlife ecology and management. If you are interested in an internship at the AEC at Antelope Park click here full details.