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Inga Jacobs 

Science, Society and Sustainability: WRC Eco-schools Competition

The WRC Eco-School miniSASS Challenge

The Challenge: To have highly informed water decision-making through science and technology at schools and wider stakeholder groups.  To develop innovative water solutions through practical, hands-on research that develops sustainable solutions. 


Water is our life-blood.  Without clean, accessible water there is no future for life in South Africa.  Although nature (ecological infrastructure) provides clean water for all, for free, the situation in South Africa is dire.  Our water resources are continually being degraded by human activities and the quality, quantity and unfair distribution is contributing to severe risks for all. 

The Water Research Commission (WRC), as South Africa’s leading water research agency, is very aware of the risks to our water resources.  Unless these are better understood and better managed the future is bleak.  Through applied, hands-on, citizen science research we can understand our water resources better and develop methodologies and approaches to better manage them. 

Now, more than ever, South Africa needs talented and innovative young scientists who can engage with and begin to solve the problems we face.  The Stream Assessment Scoring System (miniSASS) is one innovative example of citizen science that is supporting ‘close and local’ research and providing a live database of results from which better management practices maybe derived.  Such approaches contribute to human capacity development in the water sector – this is exactly what the WRC Science, Society and Sustainability Challenge is seeking to achieve.

Young people, across South Africa, are encouraged to enter the Science, Society and Sustainability challenge.  A number of prizes are on offer and these will be allocated according to the criteria that follow.

Projects that meet the following criteria will be in line for a number of awards.

1.       The project must have a miniSASS component

2.       The project must be hands-on and practical

3.       The project must be of benefit to society

4.      The project must demonstrate sustainable outcome

     The project will be judged through the WESSA Eco-School Portfolio of  Evidence (POE) methodology.

      The Challenge will be conducted through

Ø       A culture of learning and sharing

Ø       Innovation and creativity

Ø      Integrity and fairness

Ø       A spirit of professionalism and service orientation

Ø       Empowerment and social change

    How to start the Science, Society and Sustainability Challenge  

     The WRC Challenge is easy.  Simply use the 7 Eco-Schools steps detailed in the Eco-Schools Reporting Guidelines (below) to define and carry out your action project.

 Form an Eco-Committee – Make sure at least one teacher and three learners are involved.

2.       Write an Eco-Code – Define what you are striving for in your Eco-Code (Your mission or main objectives).

3.       Do an Eco-Audit and Choose a Theme– Any of the 5 Eco-School themes could be used to suit the challenge but make sure miniSASS is included.

4.       Plan for Teaching and Learning – Define how this project will contribute to teaching and learning and make curriculum links where-ever possible?

5.       Plan and Take Action – What action will you take to improve the water resource you are monitoring?

6.       Report and Share – Provide evidence of your project.  This should include lessons learnt, learners work, photographs or a video of the project (Science, Society and Sustainability Challenge) to show your actions.  Make sure your project is completely written up in your Eco-Schools Portfolio of Evidence.  This must be handed in to your Eco-Schools supporter by 30 October 2014.

7.      Receive an Award – Attend your provincial Eco-Schools awards ceremony – you could become a ‘winner’ and receive a very special prize from the Water Research Commission!

 Find brochure with more competition entry details

 Contact: Stakeholder Liaison, Hlengiwe Cele, email: hlengiwec@wrc.org.za



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