The uMgenyane Conservancy, along the Hilton College Road, has many, many seeps and springs which all eventually lead to the Mngeni river in the valley below.
It is fitting then, that they decided to use their allocation of the Midlands Conservancies Forum funding for Environmental Learning and Leadership (secured from the N3 Toll Concession) for a water focussed fieldtrip for Hilton Intermediate School, into the valley.
The learners and teachers were very welcoming and well prepared, as usual. They couldn’t wait to go down to uMngeni River to do a Mini SASS activity. Nkanyiso Ndlela (facilitator for the MMAEP) met with the teachers and discussed the programme for a day. They shared the sad story of the possible closing of the school very soon. They are very worried about some of the learners that they know really need special attention in class, so they hope they will get full attention at the schools they are going to.
We all gathered in a classroom where learners in their small groups were asked to write down their knowledge regarding the importance of water and wetlands. They presented well and the answers were correct. Learners knew a lot about wetlands and how to be water and wetland wise.
I introduced the healthy wetland eco-system game, which focuses more on wetland biodiversity and food chain. Learners went crazy in this activity shouting and supporting each other in their groups. I explained to them that the group that designs the poster full of wetland biodiversity will be the top group.
All did well, but the Lions made it to the top, the Leopards and the Young Tigers came second. We discussed the water animals that are sensitive and insensitive to pollution, the importance of biodiversity, looking after our wetlands, streams and educating others.
Nhlanhla, the Hilton Nature Reserve conservationist, was ready to drive us down to the uMngeni River. Along the way he shared his knowledge about nature and conservation, spoke about how nature connects us all, pointed out trees in the reserve and also talked about life in the wild. The learners kept asking interesting questions along the way and he gave clear answers.
We arrived at the uMngeni River which looked wide and clean with a lot of plants. I introduced the WOW Catchment Action poster to show the learners how the water gets caught from the mountains, flows down to the streams, wetlands and into the ocean. I asked them to point out the negative and positive impacts contributed by the societies to the streams and wetlands before the water get to the ocean. Then we focussed on the negative impacts because the learners knew about being water and wetland wise.
I introduced the Mini SASS activity and provided hands-on wetland books and gave instructions to the learners on how and where to investigate different kinds of creatures. Learners were all over the wetland searching and having fun in the water.
After a limited time learners came back to identify creatures they managed to catch – damselfly, frogs, backswimmers, crabs and shrimps. In their small groups they calculated their findings and then the whole group’s result, showing that the river is in a good condition.
Highlight: Sphelele (Hilton Intermediate old boy) said that he didn’t realise the beauty and the benefits of having Nature Reserves, while he was staying at Hilton.
I must say the presenter really delivered a wonderful lesson and I well learnt a lot, besides the enjoyment of playing in the river. Learners realised that the existence of minute aquatic life is living proof of the good ecology condition of uMngeni River at that point. Nicholas Maisiri teacher
It was a lovely day today, we had been hoping for good weather. The learners loved it, falling in the water while finding all the nunus. Nkanyiso did very well and learning really happened. The kids were attentive, keen and enjoyed themselves. The mini sass score was very acceptable and it was nice that the river was looking good. Joan Quayle teacher
Today’s lesson was very successful. The learners really learnt while having great fun. The learners were interested and stimulated. Well done! My only criticism is that the lesson was in Zulu, although this I am sure helped their understanding of the subject.