South Africa - Operation Wallacea

South Africa

Enhanced understanding of the syllabus

The majority of Independent Institutions follow the NSC (National Senior Certificate) as part of their further education years although a number also take the International Baccalaureate and Cambridge examinations (A-levels) from the United Kingdom. Life Science (N12LISC) is required for entry to a University Science based degree and taken by many students: a significant amount of what is being learnt can be experienced first-hand whilst on an expedition and the Opwall office can show you which topics are covered in an OpWall expedition. Students will experience these topics when they become involved in collecting data, observing scientists at work and following a series of activity lectures and an appropriate course specific to each country.

As part of the Life Science course students are required to undertake a Research task

and the Research task for NSC (National Senior Certificate) – non-investigative Practical would be appropriate.

The following (edited for conciseness) is taken from NSC handbook (Jan 2011):

Research task/ Non-investigative Practical (20 marks out of 100)

‘This component of the portfolio is designed to replace the Investigation from the previous portfolio requirements. Many teachers struggled with this component previously as the requirements were particularly narrow and prescriptive. This item is now a similar task to the Research Project used in History and Geography. The emphasis must be on giving the candidates an opportunity to get involved in research of some kind and then to write a comprehensive report on their research findings. This task may involve a number of different research methodologies. It may simply involve Library (books) and Internet based literature review in order to solve a problem/ research question set by the teacher or it may involve an initial library/ internet based review followed by an actual data collection (investigation) which is performed at home, in the school laboratory or in the field. The final outcome of this activity is a written report detailing the results of the research findings. It is assessed using memoranda, checklists or rubrics or a combination of the three. The research should relate to a question, problem or case study/ scenario.’

Additional research related qualifications:

A number of South African schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) and within this award are the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components (CAS).  Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards  these important components whilst taking part in an expedition.

Follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how it might work.

The practical scheme of work (PSOW) is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate.  Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology.  The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals that they will be involved with.

University applications and interviews

One of the best uses of the expeditions is to enhance your application for university entry.

In South Africa successful entry to University requires good passes in NSC. Some Universities also require a personal statement of achievement and the experience gained from an expedition will allow you to stand out from other similarly qualified students.

 Furthering Career Development

Opwall’s research expeditions provide an ideal opportunity for students to meet university academics and also, depending on the expedition, to work alongside university students doing degree courses of potential interest to them. These expedition provide an excellent way of making contacts and many of the students that have joined previous Opwall expeditions have then completed degrees in relevant subjects and gone on to careers in wildlife conservation or field research.