What is G.E.N.E.C.S.?
G.E.N.E.C.S. is an interdisciplinary educational program, designed for Olifant High School by specialists. G.E.N.E.C.S. stands for Globally Enhanced National Education Curriculum Support and is intended to support and complement acquired academic knowledge, by focusing on the scientific approach, incorporating blended learning, service learning and sociopreneurship. The planning started in 2015 - 2016, when Olifant was preparing for the opening of OHS. GENECS integrates the National and Cambridge curriculums and aims to motivate students, encourage critical thinking and develop problem-solving skills.
The interdisciplinary approach is an important and challenging technique in the modern curriculum, as it synthesizes more than one discipline (for example, science, math and English language) and creates teams of teachers and students that enrich the overall educational experience. Studies have shown that interdisciplinary team programs not only have a positive effect on learning, but also enhance students’ personal growth. Students learn tolerance as well as leadership and collaboration skills. (Reference: “The Growing Need for Interdisciplinary Curriculum Content” by Heidi Hayes Jacobs).
What makes the G.E.N.E.C.S. activities different from other activities in other interdisciplinary curriculums?
Although G.E.N.E.C.S. was designed during the previous year, this does not mean that the activities are fixed and unchangeable. Olifant believes that GENECS activities must meet the needs of each OHS student. In order to achieve this, the series of activities are adjusted monthly, to meet the needs of the students. In addition, the G.E.N.E.C.S. team gets detailed feedback from the students after each G.E.N.E.C.S. activity, in order to ensure that the next activity plan meets students’ needs. Students’ needs are taken seriously by the G.E.N.E.C.S. team, as our primary concern is to develop students’ skills and thinking processes such as critical thinking, reading comprehension, analysis, math skills and to apply the scientific method in numerous experiments.
What makes the G.E.N.E.C.S. activities “the ultimate learning experience” for OHS students?
G.E.N.E.C.S. activities are planned to happen every four weeks, after completing a teaching period on specific topics in the classroom. Olifant’s international team (certified high school subject teachers for English language, Math and Science) work together and in collaboration with the national teachers, in order to teach the specific topics.
The topics are carefully selected (according to previous year’s G.E.N.E.C.S. planning) in order to cover and expand the Cambridge and National curriculums, as well as to overlap the different disciplines (interdisciplinary). For example, in the recent G.E.N.E.C.S. series of activities called “GYM”, the topics that the international teachers taught in the classroom were: sequences, formulas and graphs (Math); skeletal muscles, muscles in motion, healthy diet for strong bones, weight and mass (Science); designing sportswear, fungal infections like Athlete’s foot, learning about Kenyan long -distance runners (English). The GYM series of G.E.N.E.C.S. activities conducted on September 22, from 7.30am - 3.00 pm, was divided into 4 sessions:
Students had to watch several videos on sports and Paralympics (blending learning) and then had to write short essays, and answer questions (individual worksheets, practicing English comprehension/writing skills).
Students had to conduct two experiments involving different types of physical exercise (applying the scientific method and constructing graphs to present results: science/math)
Students had to do online research on specific beverages that they usually consume, calculate the number of calories for each one, measure the amount of sugar contained in these drinks and then construct a panel poster on Styrofoam, entitled Rethink your Drink!. This session combined science, math and design.
As part of Session 3, students also had to find out the number of daily calories needed for someone of their age and gender. They then had to design their ideal or favorite menu of three meals, including a maximum of five ingredients, together with the total number of calories, to find out if their menu was suitable for them.
When students reached the final session, they were already tired. They had worked too hard for hours; they even skipped the scheduled breaks. We thought that they would quit, but nobody did because the students were working in teams and the teams were competing. During the fourth session, students had to apply their knowledge in math to construct a Twister game. They also had to construct an inspirational poster to promote sports and a healthy diet. All the teams and all the team members worked very hard and managed to finish all the tasks. The only thing they didn’t manage to do was to play Twister, as they ran out of time….
When students reached the final session, they were already tired. They had worked too hard for hours; they even skipped the scheduled breaks. We thought that they would quit, but nobody did because the students were working in teams and the teams were competing.
During the fourth session, students had to apply their knowledge in math to construct a Twister game. They also had to construct an inspirational poster to promote sports and a healthy diet.
All the teams and all the team members worked very hard and managed to finish all the tasks. The only thing they didn’t manage to do was to play Twister, as they ran out of time….