Reaching out to future entomologists

Grade 9 pupils getting up close with a hissing cockroach
Grade 9 pupils getting up close with a hissing cockroach

Students and staff members of the Rhodes University Entomology Department had the opportunity of engaging with Grade 9 students during the Entomological Society of southern Africa’s (ESSA) annual community outreach from from 7 - 10 May, which coincided with Rhodes University Community Engagement week. This is the fourth year that this event has taken place at Rhodes University, and the staff and students of the Centre for Biologicol Control (CBC) were instrumental in the planning of the programme. We organised a range of activities during this week with different schools. The aim of these activities is to inspire young minds to become the future entomologists of South Africa. We interacted with 350 students from a variety of local high schools - Archie Mbolekwa Senior Primary School, Graeme College, Hoërskool P.J. Olivier, Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School and Ntsika Secondary School over the course of the week.

Each year we choose an entomological theme to base our activities around and given the current water crisis in South Africa, the theme this year was: “Insects: experts on water quality”. Each session included a talk given by a staff member on the importance of insects in our current world and the many career opportunities that entomology offers. This was followed by a talk, given by Zolile Maseko (PhD candidate), on the use of insects as bio-indicators of water quality, also called SASS (South African Scoring System). Learners were also encouraged to participate in this nation wide initiative to monitor and protect the health of our freshwater systems, through a platform called MiniSASS. Apart from the talks, learners had the opportunity to investigate insect specimens and “battle it out” during the insect quiz. The event organiser expressed: “I’m so grateful towards the schools for giving us this opportunity. We had so much fun during the sessions and I hope to see these learners in our High School internship program or as undergraduates in the future”. ‌ 


                                            Dr Candice Owen delivering a lecture to Graeme College Grade 9 pupils


                                          Zolile Maseko addresssing Grade 9's at Archie Mbolekwa Secondary School


                                                 Grade 9 Ntsika Secondary School students listening a presentation


                                 Rhodes E‌ntomology Staff and students before the presentation at Nyaluza Secondary School



Source:  Article by Rosali Smith

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