In their own words: Addressing 21st Century Skills with Ocean 180

Nickie Wallace teaches Natural and Physical Sciences at St. Cyprian’s School in Cape Town, South Africa. Last year, her students participated as part of the Ocean 180 student judging team and she recently shared her experiences with us in the guest post below. Thanks, Nickie!

At St Cyprian’s School, we were looking for a way to introduce the scientific method to our Grade 8s, as this is the beginning year of high school in South Africa. We started the year traditionally with a case-based environmental investigative unit, but students struggled to understand things like a research question or hypothesis.

When the Ocean 180 Video Challenge came past my desk, I realized that this was going to be an easy and fun way for us to begin this conversation. And that is what we did. We were able to discuss all the scientific skills from these videos. But what we didn’t bargain for were the extra conversations that we had.

As a school, we try and focus on 21st century skills, one of which is skilled communication. These videos allowed us to extend our conversation to discuss the good aspects of each video as well as the aspects which they did not enjoy. As a result, their work has been more thoughtfully crafted this year. The other conversation that spun off this competition was one of careers in science. We were able to talk about where these people worked, what they were studying, how long they must take to do their study, and what kinds of subjects they had to study at high school or university to get to where they were.

Overall, the students enjoyed this short activity immensely. They rated it as one of the best units of that term – tying for first with another unit. It engaged them at a personal level. It forced them to think critically and give their opinion. It encouraged them to think of different opportunities that they could have access to. It was definitely worth the academic time from my side and I am very keen to have our next Grade 8s participate.

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