Foundation New marine sciences subject for grade 10 learners in 2019
Photo Credit: Marcio Scatrut from Pexels

The Two Oceans Aquarium, in partnership with Gansbaai Academy, Simon’s Town High and South Peninsula High will, in January 2019, launch Marine Sciences as a new pilot subject.


These three schools have been selected as “Marine Sciences Node Schools” and will offer the new subject to Grade 10 learners. These learners will be the pilot group and successful candidates will be awarded a Two Oceans Aquarium Gr12 Marine Sciences Certificate when matriculating. This pilot will guide teachers to introduce this subject as an official Matric subject for Gr 10 students in 2020.

For Russell Stevens, Head of Education at the Two Oceans Aquarium, this is a significant milestone in the work towards the development of the subject which will be implemented in schools across the country from 2020. “This “project” is gaining momentum and the process has put the Two Oceans Aquarium on the map for the most senior officials in the country.

“Our team have worked very hard at developing partnerships with the Department of Basic Education and in the provincial education departments (WCED; Eastern Cape; KZN and the Gauteng Education Department). All are now familiar with our programmes and the significance of our offering in the South African education landscape. Support from senior officials in the Departments of Education has shown recognition for the contribution made by the Two Oceans Aquarium staff in the partnering with South Africa’s formal education sector.”

The Two Oceans Aquarium has a very active and respected education department that sees approximately 70 000 school children visit the Aquarium each year who are introduced to the wonders of the marine eco systems. In addition, 30 000 children are exposed to the Aquarium’s two outreach programmes. Additionally, since 2005 the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Environmental Education Centre has offered enrichment courses for learners from Grade 6 through to Grade 12.

These courses, usually presented over weekends or during school holidays and through various sponsorships, are offered free of charge for the learners. It is from these highly-acclaimed and ever-popular courses that Aquarium’s education team was approached by the department of education to develop the Marine Sciences curriculum for schools.

The Marine Sciences curriculum has been conceived to cover five sub-disciplines:

  1. Marine Geography and Geology: this section deals with the structure and origins of coastlines, the seafloor and sediments, and how these change over time.
  2. Marine Chemistry: the chemical composition and properties of seawater, and the effects of pollutants on ocean life.
  3. Marine Physics: waves, tides and currents, as well as the ways in which the ocean acts as a driver of weather and climate.
  4. Marine Biology: marine life and includes ecology, fundamental biology, classification, evolutionary processes, and the adaptation of marine organisms to their environments.
  5. Humans and the Ocean: this section highlights how humans use the ocean for food, travel and recreation, and how renewable and non-renewable resources are harvested. This section also considers the importance of research in understanding the ocean and the effects that human activities and practices have on the ocean and larger global patterns (e.g. climate change, ocean acidification). The issue of sustainability is foregrounded in the teaching of the entire subject.

There are five specific “Marine Sciences Aims” which relate to the purposes of learning science:

  1. Know the subject content (theory).
  2. Conduct practical work and investigations.
  3. Understand the applications of Marine Science in everyday life, the history of Marine Science discoveries, and the relationship between indigenous knowledge and science.
  4. Understand the multidisciplinary nature of Marine Sciences and be able to explain variables in more than one branch of Marine Sciences.
  5. Understand the sensitive nature of the ocean, the scientific evidence of human impact on marine ecosystems, and the importance of sustainable management practices.

The Marine Sciences pilot subject will be launched at the node schools in January 2019 as part of the Grade 10’s curriculum. It will be offered as an “after-school” 8th subject at the node schools, over two afternoons per week (as determined by the school). The subject will also be available to interested Grade 10 learners from neighbouring schools and nearby areas. A minimal cost for students will apply and be payable to the node schools’ governing body.

Node schools are currently inviting prospective Grade 10’s who wish to take Marine Sciences from 2019, to apply. Each application will be considered in conjunction with the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Applicants need to submit the following to the Marine Sciences coordinating teacher at each of the node schools:

  • Letter of motivation from the learner as to why he/she is interested in studying Marine Sciences
  • A supporting letter from their Geography / Natural sciences teacher or their Grade Head, recommending the learner and approving the application
  • A certified copy of their Grade 9 June report
  • A letter from their parent/ guardian supporting the application, undertaking to arrange transport and to agree with payment of the after-school Marine Sciences fees.

The following criteria will apply:

  • Applications are open to current Grade 9’s who will be studying Gr 10 in 2019.
  • A maximum of 40 suitable candidates per node will be selected
  • Candidates must be taking Grade 10 Maths and Physical Sciences
  • Have reliable transport to ensure attendance of the programme.
  • If Marine Sciences will be the learner’s 8th subject, it must not interfere with any of their other subjects

Sources: Two Oceans Aquarium
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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