Conservation Education: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
December 8 2015

The module not only helped the students to understand the negative impact their daily life has on the environment, but the Conservation Education Team also gave them an opportunity to get creative with some simple and fun “homemade” recycling.

The students were first introduced to the module by looking at pictures of negative effects of waste. In small groups they discussed what they saw on the pictures and how it made them feel.  Next, they were asked to think back to their recent litter-pick experience to consider the impact on the environment, wildlife, and human health of different types of litter.  To end the lesson, the students were introduced to the three ‘R’s- Reduce (using less of a resource), Reuse (using a resource or item more than once), Recycle (the process of taking a used item apart and turning it into something new).

In the following lesson, the focus was on the Reduce aspect of the three Rs.  Students were made aware that we often use more resources than we actually need. e.g. one picture showed bananas for sale packed one by one in Styrofoam cups, covered with cling film. The kids were surprised how easily waste could be reduced with a little thought, and made good plans on how to reduce their own waste. 

This lesson was followed by a creative breakout.  The students were presented with some waste material and asked to list as many ways to reuse or upcycle it (the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value).  Students Shadreck and Gift, for example, wanted to reuse their plastic bottle to carry water to school to drink through the day, to water plants, as a flowerpot to grow plants in, to make a toy car, and even fill it with something heavy and use it as a barbell for their “daily workout”. After sharing their ideas, the design challenge was set.  Everyone could choose an item and make a plan to turn it into something new and useful. The kids overflowed with ideas.  

A peanut butter jar was turned into a salt shaker, whilst a cardboard box came back as a “Touch and go” game board.  Milk containers were reused to plant seeds.  

Coming towards a school holiday - and exams - it was decided to move away from theory based sessions.  So the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle project ended with an afternoon of making our own paper. The torn up newspaper was placed along with water into a household blender.  The paper mash was put through a self-made sieve and then placed in wooden frames to dry.  The children were excited by how easy the process was, and also in coming up with creative ideas on how to decorate the paper they had created.

About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project

Our year-long 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.

Support the AEC

If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.


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