February 2019

Funky stools made from eco-bricks

Modikwa Eco-Club’s Eco-brick project

By Hannah Dyke

Portia Phokela, the Mogalakwena Research Assistant, has been running a recycling project with Modikwa primary school Eco-Club. Portia has been teaching the children about recycling, by collecting plastic bottles and filling them with plastic waste to create eco-bricks. After the children’s hard work, we wanted to build something from the bricks, to show the club what they achieved. All we had to do now was think of what to build!

Portia’s eco-club takes place in the school playground, under the shade of an umbrella thorn. The children normally sit on the floor or take chairs from their classrooms. We thought it would be lovely to build seating under the tree, to create a permanent eco-club classroom. Enabling a designated area for their environmental education, made from recycled material and therefore, reflecting the clubs’ environmental values. From this we brainstormed and researched various building techniques. We needed a design that was simple and could be easily replicated. The ability to replicate the building was crucial as Portia intends to keep this project ongoing by continuing to collect eco-bricks with the children. This project extends the children’s education in recycling, further reduces waste in the community and creates more seating for the eco-club classroom. Taking all of this into consideration, we created our own eco-stool design. All we needed was an old bucket, cement, a little string and our trusty eco-bricks.

Portia and I made a total of 8 stools, which we took to the school on the 28th of February. The eco-club children were very excited to see that their hard work had been made into something colourful and useful. We spent the afternoon with the children, having fun painting a couple of the stools.
I’ve truly loved working on this project. My two favourite events being collecting waste with the children, them of course showing me all the tips and tricks to make the best eco-brick. Then, watching the students decorate two of their stools. They carefully selected the colours and shared round the paint brushes, to make the stools truly their own. I’m thrilled that Portia will continue the project and excited to see what else they build with the eco-bricks.

November 2018

What is a better introduction to science than a Nature Treasure Hunt?


Modikwa Eco-Club’s visit to Mogalakwena Research Centre

By Estelle Leroux

Our research assistant, Portia Phokela, is eco-mentor of the Eco-Club of the Modikwa primary school in Simson. Eco-clubs are part of the Children in the Wilderness program which offers learners with an interest in nature and the environment the opportunity to interact and learn about environmental issues and sustainable living. Usually Portia visits the school, but this time the learners of the Eco-Club were invited to visit the Mogalakwena Research Centre (MRC) to take part in a very exciting Nature Treasure Hunt. The treasure hunt was organised by the eco-mentors and the students of the Research Centre. Divided in four teams, each team had to find clues based on descriptions of animals and trees.

With the use of a treasure map, the learners practised to navigate by finding landmarks and eventually the treasure. During the hunt, the Eco-Club learners were introduced to the reserve and to the various research projects undertaken by the Research Centre. They were demonstrated how to test the learning ability of vervet monkeys, explored what animals use a baobab tree for shelter and they used the binoculars to find crocodiles (“kwena” in Northern Sotho) in the river. By using a microscope, the learners were able to examine familiar insects like they had never seen them before. They also discovered that a scorpion turns fluorescent purple when lit with a UV light and they were very impressed by the size of the giraffe and the length of the snake skeleton at the Eco-Centre. While finding the one clue after the other clue, we saw other animals like: nyalas, impalas, warthogs and vervet monkeys.

The treasure hunt was a very fun afternoon, filled with facts about the different species studied at Mogalakwena. The MRC students gained experience in presenting their research projects and the Eco-Club learners gained insight in the research that is being done ‘at their neighbours’: a wonderful educational experience for all parties involved. We finished the afternoon with snacks, games and lots of dancing.