Deborah Robertson-Andersson - Mace Lab
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For the past six years Mace Lab has been studying the effects of microplastic pollution in Durban's sea-creatures and has generated a wealth of knowledge
Many organizations are doing single once-off programs where students go for a beach cleanup and learn about the litter issue. While this is great it often has no tie into the curriculum or involves blended learning.
For the past six years Mace Lab has been studying the effects of microplastic pollution in Durban's sea-creatures and has generated a wealth of knowledge, we have also investigated the BIGA problem (Books, Ideas and General Knowledge do not lead to Action) in the context to plastic pollution and knowledge transfer of data around plastic pollution. We have found that we need to enhance connectedness to nature to facilitate behavioral change for the benefit of the environment and we need to show relevance and application of the issue across all learning spectrum's facilitated with learners learning styles in mind over a longer period in order to facilitate retention of such knowledge.
While we applaud efforts in environmental education we need to think bigger and more integrated and it was for this reason that we started a week-long program which has now been extended to a two week-long program at two schools in Durban.
We designed booklets that cover, mathematics, geography, English comprehension, art, drama, Afrikaans, IsiZulu, science, etc. at a CAPs grade eight level that the students do with facilitators in the classroom. Learning is integrated with physical activities such as the recycle relay and beach clean ups and marches with the aims of teaching students how to do litter surveys and actually planning marches incorporated into the training. The theme is around plastic and its effects but goes broader in that students are taken to a landfill and do exercises there, they learn about their environmental footprint, they learn about up-cycling of plastic waste and they learn about social media and knowledge transfer in that the culmination of the course are videos in multiple languages with the lessons they have learnt. We have also Incorporated targeted learning at facilities like Ushaka and ask for programs that enhance ours. The children are taught by students actually research micro-plastics and MACE Lab students are taught how to present to younger learners. As an example we do four beach cleanups a year with 7 - 12 year old's and information is targeted to be non-negative and to illustrate that they can make a difference.
The children produce booklets that have rubrics that allow the children to see how the work is assessed and allows for the schools' educators to rapidly obtain marks for the school curriculum.
A measure of the success of the program for me is the difference in slide 2 - 4 in the presentation. This difference was led by grade 8's.
All of our research presented at conferences by lab members is shared on slide-share and there have been over 25 public presentations to a variety of audiences to further enhance knowledge transfer.