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IntakaIslandIntaka, which means “bird” in Xhosa, is a 16-hectare wetland and bird sanctuary some 7 kilometres north of the Cape Town CBD. 7 May 2013 - LEAP Science & Maths School took a hundred of its learners on an innovative three-day hands-on science camp at the Intaka Island wetland sanctuary near Cape Town during the April 2013 school holiday.

Intaka Island staff helped the students take water samples, analyse organisms with microscopes, identify birds and other wildlife, learn about recycling efforts and water filtration systems on the island, and act out plays the students wrote about birds living on the island.

"We have a code of conduct that we follow at LEAP," said maths teacher Mona Ewees. "These are our shared values in the school. One of them is to 'Care for Our World'. Intaka Island is a great place for us to teach our students how they can start caring for our world right here in Cape Town."

The LEAP Science & Maths School is a high-achieving school for township students from grades 9 to 12. With two campuses in Cape Town, LEAP serves students from Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Crossroads. The schools provide student-centred maths- and science-focused education to promising students, with the aim of promoting self-awareness and achieving top academic results.

Last year LEAP boasted a 94% matric pass rate among its students. LEAP has an extended school day, with students in classes until 17h15 every day and extra classes run on Saturday and during holidays.

"At LEAP we try to use every single chance we can to gain more teaching time," said English teacher Geordie Brackin. "During holiday periods, we run enrichment camps so our students have access to important out-of-the-classroom learning opportunities. Intaka Island was perfect for us because of its focus on environmental education, sustainability and wildlife preservation. The students were able to learn in a way that was very real for them."

Grade 9 student Khanyisa Mpemba was particularly impressed with the island's birdlife: "I left Intaka Island knowing a lot more about birds and plants than when I arrived. I loved learning about the different birds like the red-knobbed coot and the Egyptian goose. The Egyptian goose stays with one partner for their whole life, which means they don't cheat. In the minds of the Egyptian goose it is 'till death do us part'."

Because LEAP is a low-fee independent school, it relies on funds from private donors to pay for most of a student's fees. Intaka Island generously provided programme support and field rangers to guide the students through each of the four science activity stations.

"Our students had an unforgettable educational experience at Intaka," said Brackin. "They are already asking about coming back next year!"

Grade 9 student Thuthula Luke was grateful to the Intaka Island rangers: "I want to say thank you to the entire staff at Intaka Island. We learned so many things about nature in our time here. You made us feel so welcome. I can honestly say I felt like I belonged here."

Intaka, which means "bird" in Xhosa, is a 16-hectare wetland and bird sanctuary some 7 kilometres north of the Cape Town CBD. The wetland is an example of nature conservation and property development co-existing in harmony. Find out more at www.intaka.co.za.

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