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Fort Cox former student perspective on effectiveness of Problem Based Learning and student challenge group work approach

Leah Mothiba an "Advanced Diploma in Animal Production graduate" participated in "Climate smart, resilient forestry/Agriculture production landscapes" student challenge.

Leah Mothiba, a Fort Cox Advanced Diploma in Animal Production graduate in an interview had interesting recollection to share about problem-based learning (PBL) and student challenge teaching and learning approach. This information is critical for the students who wishes to partake in future student challenges hosted by partners in Forest21.

How did you perceive the problem-based learning approach?

LM: The problem-based learning (PBL) was a challenge as we had to think on our feet within a limited time and then present our results as a group.

How did you cope with the challenge and balancing it off with other pressing workload outside the challenge itself?

LM: During the Forest21 student challenge, I had to step out of my comfort zone, I had to be ready for anything. I had to juggle both the Forest21 challenge work and other the related school activities at once. It was a lot to deal with but manageable.

What were the moments when you felt pressured and empowered during the student challenge?LM: When I was selected to be a group leader and to be interviewed during the Forest21 challenge by the group members, I was nervous and shy about it, but went for it. As we were taking the field trips and visiting the farms, we were taught on how their system works and how they deal with certain challenges. I have realized that the farming sector is the most affected by climate change; therefore, there is a great need to employ various climate smart practices to ensure sustainable production is achieved, Mothiba emphasized. The farming sector must be flexible and be able to adapt new techniques for them to continue producing and staying in business irrespective of the climate change phenomenon.

What were the most exciting moments for you that you will cherish for many years to come?

LM: The hospitality throughout the Forest21 challenge was perfect. It made adapting to the workload from the student challenge and other related school activities to be easily manageable. We had field trips and visited different farms; it was beautiful. Meeting with diverse people, socializing and interacting with them was exciting. The whole student challenge made me realize that there is more to life “soft life”, than what we are used to, I was and still encouraged to strive for greatness in life.

What specific problems were identified in your group concerning unsustainable agricultural practices and their impact in climate change?

LM: Agriculture practices cause leaching: such as the over fertilization of crops and grassland, excessive livestock numbers, inappropriate use of manure, exposure of bare soil during the winter drainage period and excessive use of chemicals. How does it affect agriculture? Economic costs (waste of money using fertilizer manure etc. incorrectly, huge cost in fixing the soil for next yield or crop plantations), changes the soil structure/composition, low yield, waste of water, possibly causes of disease, erosion, wash away seedlings all this makes negative impacts makes it a challenge for farmers to replace and fix soil. How leaching affects the environment? Pollutes rivers and water sources, effects aquatic life, cause eutrophication, contaminates ground water, erosion, spread seeds (alien), anaerobic conditions, endangers surrounding indigenous species (some may be endangered), washes away organic matter. Climate change and nutrient leaching: climate change causes increased rainfall which increases the risk of nutrient leaching. Nutrient leaching may runoff into water sources where eutrophication may begin, which then releases an increased amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (contributing to climate change).

What was your groups’ proposed solution to the identified problems in pursuit to mitigate the impact of climate change?

LM: The proposed solution is to make vermicompost (earthworm compost) using earthworms and organic waste compost to sell to small scale farmers to remedy leached soil. Vermicomposting is the scientific method of making compost, by using earthworms. They are commonly found living in soil, feeding on biomass and excreting the biomass in a digested form. Vermiculture means “worm-farming”. Earthworms feed on the organic waste materials and give out excreta in the form of “vermicasts” that are rich in nitrates and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium. These are used as fertilizers and enhance soil quality. Vermicomposting is an eco-friendly process that recycles organic waste into compost and produces valuable nutrients.Problem-based learning and student challenge teaching and learning approach works.

Read the original post and other Forest21 related stories on the pages of FCAFTI


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