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Curriculum Education

The collections at the Origins Centre address progressive and transformational curriculum outcomes.

The areas and grades covered are:

  • The Khoisan and rock art, Intermediate Phase: (Grades 4-6) 
  • Paleontology and Paleo-Anthropology. Diversity, Change and Continuity, Grade 12
  • Human Evolution, Grade 12
  • Dinosaurs, Grade R
  • Fossils in rock, Grade 5
  • Relationship of the Sun to the Earth, Grade 7
  • History of Life on Earth, Grade 10

The Khoisan and rock art curriculum

Intermediate Phase: Grades 4-6

Topic: Hunter-gatherers and herders in southern Africa

The last 10 000 years of the Later Stone Age. Older Stone Age periods go back over hundreds of thousands of years. Farmers entered southern Africa about 1 700 years ago. Hunter-gatherers were not marginalised or out-competed, but shared the southern African farming landscape with farmers over much of this time. Focus: The way of life of the hunter-gatherers and herders, the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa, and how we find out about them.

Content and concepts

  • South Africa from 10 000 thousand years ago: people of the Later Stone Age
  • The invention of the bow and arrow, which contributed to hunting effectiveness
  • Social organisation: all things were meant to be shared equally within a group
  • Plant medicines
  • San beliefs and religion
  • Rock art: where, when, how and why it was created
  • Interpretations of rock art
  • South African Coat of Arms and the Linton Rock Art Panel
  • Khoikhoi herder society in the Later Stone Age - Pastoral way of life
  • How San and Khoikhoi shared the same landscape

Paleontology and Paleo-Anthropology curriculum

Diversity, Change and Continuity Evolution: Grade 12

Origin of ideas about beginning of life

  • Different kinds of evidence for evolution: fossil record (link to difference between hypothesis and theory; and brief overview of history of different theories of development: Lamarckism, Darwinism, and Punctuated Equilibrium).
  • Artificial selection: ONE example of a domesticated animal
  • Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
  • Evolution (change) through natural selection
  • Formation/emergence of new species. Speciation
  • Evolution in present times. Examples of natural selection and evolution

Human Evolution

Grade 12

  • Evidence of common ancestors for living hominids including humans: Anatomical differences and similarities between African apes and humans: Fossil evidence, mitochondrial DNA
  • Cultural evidence and tool-making.
  • Out of Africa hypothesis: Evidence African origins for all modern humans: genetic links, mitochondrial DNA: Rift valley fossil sites in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and in Ethiopia. Scientists e.g., Johansen and White, the Leaky family fossils discovered at these sites: Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, and Homo etc.
  • Fossil sites in South Africa: Fossils discovered at these sites: Australopithecus and Homo
  • Importance of the Cradle of Humankind: Main fossil sites in South Africa, e.g., Taung, Sterkfontein, Kromdraai, Swartkrans, Malapa, Plovers Lake, Gladysvale, Makapansgat, Florisbad, Border Cave, Blombos. Mention scientists such as Dart, Broome, Tobias, Brain,  Clark, Berger, Keyser and others.
  • Alternatives to evolution, different cultural and religious explanations for the origin and development of life on Earth: Creationism; Intelligent Design; Literalism, Theistic evolution


Grade R

  • Topic: Dinosaurs - 2 hours
  • Different dinosaurs
  • How dinosaurs lived
  • How we know about dinosaurs today

Fossils in Rock

Grade 5

Fossils are the remains of ancient plants and animals preserved in rock, fossils are found in some layers of sedimentary rock,  fossils are evidence/a record of the history of life on Earth, there are two main types of fossils; body and trace fossils

  • Body and trace fossils
  • body fossils form from the hard parts of plant and animal bodies including teeth, bones, shells, stems, leaves and seeds
  • trace fossils form traces left by animals including footprints, nests, eggs and droppings
  • some features of fossils resemble the features of plants and animals living today

Importance of South African fossils

  • South Africa has a particularly rich fossil record of plants, animals and early humans. Important fossils found in South Africa include the Coelacanth and African dinosaurs
  • the “Cradle of humankind” is one of the sites where important fossils of humankind have been found in South Africa

Relationship of the sun to the Earth

Grade 7

  • dead plants and animals can eventually form coal, oil or gas (fossil fuels) after millions of years this happens when the remains of dead plants and animals are covered by layers of mud and soil - the layers press down on these remains - more layers lead to increased pressure-  increased pressure, over long periods of time, changes these remains into coal, oil or gas
  • Drawing a diagram which shows the flow of energy from the Sun through to the formation of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
  • the coal, oil and gas store energy from the Sun that was absorbed by plants millions of years ago
  • humans are using this store of energy (coal, oil and gas) faster than it is being formed
  • (Non-renewable resource)

History of Life on Earth

Grade 10

  • Life’s History: Change throughout the history of life on Earth
  • Changes in the composition of the atmosphere (e.g. increases in the levels of oxygen)
  • Changes in climate (e.g. ice ages)
  • Geological events (e.g. movements of continents) and their effect on the distribution of living organisms (biogeography)
  • Evidence for changing sea level and rise and fall of the land (e.g. bivalves and ammonites found on the Makhatini Flats in Northern KZN, whale fossils in the Sahara, trilobites in the Karoo.
  • The three eras: Palaeozoic, Mesozoic and Coenozoic periods are each divided into periods (Names of periods not to be memorised):
  • Cambrian Explosion, which gives us insights into the origins of the major forms of all animal groups.
  • In the last four million years, significant changes have occurred in species occurring in Africa (e.g., humans)
  • Mass Extinctions, there have been five mass extinctions throughout history, two of which are particularly important: 250 Mya (the extinction of about 90% of all life on Earth) and 65 Mya (the extinction of many species, including the dinosaurs).




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