Conservation education at Mukamusaba School in Livingstone has recently been focused on a project called “Plant Power”. The objective is to look at the processes plants go through to survive, and the conditions required for this.
The first two lessons of the topic explored how plants carry out, and benefit from, photosynthesis. After defining the term photosynthesis, the pupils were put in groups of six and were required to discuss where the reactants (water, CO2 and light) of photosynthesis come from, how they get into the plants, and what happens to the products. Project volunteers and interns moved from one group to another in an effort to answer some questions and also just to encourage the students.
After the discussion, each group was asked to design an experiment to test if plants really need the three reactants in order to carry out photosynthesis. Upon finishing the discussion, the class set up an experiment using four plants. Each of three plants had one reactant removed (such as covering it to remove its access to light) whilst one plant was used as a ‘control’ and was given access to all three reactants. All the four plants were left at the school for the students to care for until the following week when the results of the experiment would be observed.
To start the next lesson, the class took a good look at the four plants to see how they had faired during the week. Unsurprisingly, only one plant, the control plant that had access to water, CO2 and light was healthy.
The lesson progressed by discussing how most plants depend on pollination, and how these pollinators should be conserved. The class was split into three groups. The first group was called ‘bees’, the second ‘flowers’, and the last group was called ‘observers’. After the ‘bees’ went outside, each member of the ‘flower’ group was asked to pick a colour as a symbol of the coloured petals which real flowers have. Without the ‘flowers’ being aware, the ‘bees’ were told only to visit the bright coloured flowers, so that they could collect nectar and pollinate the flowers.
After repeating this role play a number of times, the observers were required to explain why they thought only some flowers were visited by the bees.
In the final week of the topic, the lesson aimed at establishing how plant growth can be encouraged at home and how plants should be looked after. The class was again split in groups of four and given a scenario to work with. The scenario was that a family is currently spending a lot of money travelling to markets to buy fruit and vegetables. The grandmother thinks it would be a good idea to grow their own food in a small patch of land owned by the family. The groups were asked to discuss how this would impact the family and their economy, the local environment, and how this could be done sustainably. After the discussion, each group shared their findings to the rest of the class.
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.
Make a donation to support our work.
If you are able to contribute to fund our conservation education programme, you can make a donation here.