Learning about history through exploration

2019-09-04 06:02
photo: suppliedPupils and teachers from Sisekelo High School with a KZN Museum information officer (centre).

photo: suppliedPupils and teachers from Sisekelo High School with a KZN Museum information officer (centre).

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PUPILS from Sisekelo experienced a guided tour of the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Gardens environmental education centre, situated along Mayor’s Walk in the western suburbs of Pietermaritzburg, recently.

The gardens, established in 1874, feature plants from eastern South Africa and the Northern hemisphere which are cultivated here and also features a century-old lane of plane trees and a forested hillside with a number of footpaths. The Dorpspruit, a tributary of the Msunduzi River, flows at the base of the hillside. The gardens are one of the oldest in the world.

Pupils were greeted by environmental educator Nkululeko Shezi, who began by addressing them about the garden’s rules before each grade was given an environmental educator to lead them in different topics that related to the school curriculum.

The following aspects were discussed in length and experiments were also conducted:

- The value of and threats to our natural resources — covered under wetland, succulent areas and forests. Values, threats and pressures and solutions were discussed.

- Being eco-friendly — included transport, home, energy, local, produce, recycle, reduce and reuse, greening and water.

- Plane tree avenue — pupils were taught that this magnificent plane tree avenue was planted just after the turn of the 20th century, in 1908, which surprised everyone!

- PMB Botanical Gardens history — it was said that these gardens were established in the early 1870s and essentially focus on conserving a propagation of rare and endangered indigenous plants and the cultivation of East Coast grasslands.

A warm thanks to the following Botanical Gardens environmental educators: Thandeka Gumede, Nkululeko Shezi, Mxolisi Buthelezi, and Anele Mncube for their excellent skills in facilitating the programme.

It was time to head to the KZN Museum after the Botanical Gardens guided tour [ended], where, with the help of Samkelisiwe Ngubane, an information officer, pupils learned about the following:

- Human origins exhibit: How did we get here and where did we come from? Pupils explored five stories of human beginnings and compared them for similarities and differences.

- Iron age exhibit: Pupils took a stroll through the iron age village and discovered how agriculturalists lived 1 200 years ago.

- Settler history gallery: Pupils experienced the life of the English settlers in 19th century Natal and took a stroll down a recreated street in central Pietermaritzburg from the last half of the 1800s.

- Snake display: A variety of snakes from the KZN Midlands were on display, including specimens of the five most dangerous snakes in Pietermaritzburg.

- Stone age exhibit: How did humans evolve? Pupils found out more about the stone age people of KZN in a life-size recreation of a Drakensberg cave and saw copies of original San rock paintings.

The school thanked all parents and pupils who made this trip successful. — Supplied.

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