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Thinking ‘out of the box’ about changing estuaries

By Nozipiwo Hambaze, Science Engagement Officer, SAEON Elwandle Node
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The CAPS curriculum puts emphasis on producing learners that are critical thinkers. Teachers are regarded as crucial role players in sparking critical thinking in young learners’ minds.

Inquiry-based learning holds the key for both teaching and learning to adopt an investigative approach. Inquiry-based learning provides learners with opportunities to use their intuition to investigate a problem, ask questions, test ideas, make observations and think creatively.

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SAIAB PhD student Pakama Nodo (left) assists a BEd student to read physical parameters (Photo: Nozipiwo Hambaze)

In order to align with the National Science Week theme, Facing harsh realities of climate change, Rhodes University’s Education department, in collaboration with SAEON and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), engaged BEd fourth-year students and learners from Nyaluza High School in an inquiry-based learning experience. Students and learners did a survey of the estuary in Kenton-on-Sea, where they looked at species diversity in the lower, middle and upper reaches of the estuary as well as physical parameters such as temperature and salinity of the water.

In order to assess the students’ and learners’ understanding of the inquiry-based learning experience, they were given historical data of the physical parameter of the estuary to look at the changes that have occurred and provide their argument in the light of current data they have collected. A comparison of the data proved that changes had occurred over the last five years.

All students were challenged to think out of the box and provide reasons that might account for the changes. The outdoor learning experience was enjoyed by all.

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Looking at phytoplankton samples under a microscope (Photo: Nozipiwo Hambaze)

A student (right) and a learner get ready to sample the middle and upper estuary (Photo: Nozipiwo Hambaze)

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