2. Working in groups to investigate pollution
Because our natural environment can provide us with our livelihoods, you need to encourage your pupils to think about how to preserve the environment so that it continues to provide what we need.
To start your pupils thinking about the damage that is being done to the environment, you can actually show them the harmful effects of pollution. This is what the teacher in Case Study 2 does with her class. Activity 2 shows another way – conducting an experiment to show the effects of polluted water or lack of water on the growth of plants. Once your pupils can see the damage done by pollution, they will be in a better position to develop positive attitudes towards protecting and caring for the environment.
Case Study 2: Using a field trip to explore pollution
Mamadou Tanle, the Class 6 teacher in the Wa Catholic School, wants to develop her pupils’ awareness of the harmful effects of water pollution. (See Resource 2: Water issues for background information.) She realises that she can do this by taking them on a field trip to the local river, which is littered with rubbish.
At the river, she asks them to make a list of everything they can find that is polluting the water. Once the pupils have done this, they sit on the riverbank and Mamadou asks them a series of questions to encourage them to think beyond what they see. For example, she asks them: ‘How many people rely on this river as a water supply?’ ‘What would happen to all those people if the water from the river is contaminated? ‘What do they use this water for?’
Back in class, she asks each group to develop a strategy to help clean up the river and its surroundings. As she moves around, listening and helping, she is excited by the plans that they are coming up with. Ideas include involving the community and the school to combat pollution, not only at the river, but in other areas of the village as well. Mamadou feels she has achieved her aim of developing an awareness of the harmful effects of water pollution, and is pleased that she has encouraged an attitude of community-mindedness in her pupils as well.
Note: When planning field trips a teacher needs to be conscious of the culture/religion of the immediate environment. Field trips should not be undertaken to sacred places within the community if there is a taboo. In areas where pupils have to attend the secular schools and Koranic schools, the teacher must ensure that the pupils come back in good time to enable them to attend the Koranic schools.
Activity 2: An experiment on pollution
- To refresh or develop your own knowledge about water issues, read Resource 2. Try this activity yourself beforehand so you can help your pupils better.
- Ask your pupils to set up the experiment, which will run over five days, described in Resource 3: Maize seed experiment.
- Then ask each pupil to write down their predictions of what will happen to each seed over the five days.
- Ask them to check the progress of the three maize seeds every day.
- Pupils should make a formal record of their daily observations. You should also participate by making and recording observations of your own.
- On the fifth day, hold a detailed discussion with pupils about whether or not their predictions have been fulfilled. What has happened to each maize seed?
- Discuss the implications of the experiment in terms of pollution. Can you and your pupils think of other experiments to do around pollution?