As the seasons changed, a swarm of mosquitoes engulfed the areas around the Aga Khan Nursery and Primary School (AKNPS), Dar-es-Salaam, which left many Grade 3 students worried. From their science class, they knew the increasing number of mosquitoes in a place they spent most of their days could become a health hazard.
According to HealthLine
, a leading health publication, mosquitoes are the primary vectors for major human diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and dengue fever, which together infect hundreds of millions of humans worldwide. The World Health Organisation also reports that more than 50 percent of the world’s population is presently at risk from mosquito-borne diseases.
Given the adverse risks that come with mosquitoes inhabiting an area, Aga Khan students decided to reflect on the issue and take action, emulating the IB PYP attitudes of enthusiasm, creativity and curiosity.
The grade three students formed small groups to research eco-friendly and child-safe ways to get rid of mosquitoes. After much research, the team decided to plant mosquito repellent plants in pots and place these in various areas around the school. They also researched how to use recycled plastic bottles to make natural mosquito traps.
However, the results of the initiative required funding and cooperation from the larger school community. So, to begin the project, the grade 3 community, including students, teachers and parents, organized a bake sale to raise money for the project. During this process, the students learned about financial planning and took an increased responsibility towards their initiative. Parents donated baked goods which were sold by students during school breaks. The money collected was then used to buy soil, seeds and other materials for mosquito traps.
Parents helped by teaching students how to plant basil and marigold plants, and to build mosquito traps. Research shows that these plants have distinct smells that ward off insects, in particular, mosquitoes, and they flourish in hot and humid environments, similar to the climate of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
The eco-friendly traps have been placed around the school and students are now observing and recording the efficacy of their solution. The students have also taken responsibility for the regular care of the plants and mosquito traps. They hope to continue the project throughout the year for the betterment of the wider school community.
A combination of collaboration and creative thinking led these students to create a clever, simple, and natural solution for a pressing problem that faced their community. AKNPS is proud of this initiative and encourages all it’s students to embody these values in situations they may face in their academic and professional lives in the years to come.