ZooClub members construct their models to investigate the hypotheses that they had to think up themselves.
Each group had to present their investigation in poster format to the rest of the ZooClub members.
It is that time of year when the winter Science Expo is drawing near. In preparation for this event, the ZooClub members (Zookies) have been gearing up to scientific mode to design projects for the Expo.
In order to get the ZooClub members into a more 'scientific' frame of mind, they participated in a programme specially designed for them. The morning's acitivities began with the basics being explained to them, including concepts such as 'scientific project' and 'hypothesis', and the difference between aims and objectives.
Then it was up to the Zookies to come up with a project that would be an investigation into solving a problem and/or answering an identified question. It was explained to them that they needed to follow an appropriate method to ensure the concept was being investigated and tested correctly to come to a clear conclusion.
The ZooClub members were split up into four groups, which all received the same objects and utensils to enable them to think up a project or investigation and construct a model to test their hypothesis. Each group had to design an investigation using four live crickets that were given to them to investigate an interesting aspect relating to the crickets' behaviour.
Thinking up their own project idea to investigate was the main challenge for the Zookies, but once the idea was on the table, the rest of the activities followed more easily. Some of the ideas that the groups investigated were whether the crickets' behaviour was affected by aspects such as different foods, on different terrains, in the dark, in the light and some with obstacles and some without.
Building models to test their hypotheses
Once they had built models to test their hypotheses, the crickets were released into the models. This provided the learners with data which they used to record their results in tables and to generate graphs. From here, they interpreted and analysed their results to look for trends and patterns to conclude their investigation based on their findings and aims.
Each group had to present their investigation in poster format to the rest of the ZooClub members explaining their model, methods, results and conclusions. This was good practice for the learners in terms of both their school work and their presentation skills.
The Zookies all concluded that the programme had been beneficial to them as it orientated them towards thinking scientifically and doing more scientific research. They also said it motivated them and gave them extra ideas for the projects they would be entering into the Science Expo which is scheduled to take place at the NZG this July. The ZooClub members further agreed that the programme would help them in their science projects at school.
The Zookies are looking forward to the scheduled activities for the rest of the term and are planning further programmes that would benefit them at school and into the future.
Claire Fordred, Intern, NZG
The National Zoological Gardens of
South Africa is a proud facility of
the National Research Foundation