PAST – Palaeontological Scientific Trust
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The Walking Tall Educational Theatre Project

Click HERE for the Walking Tall East Africa Tour slideshow.
This programme includes PAST’s acclaimed Walking Tall Educational Theatre Project and two new components which are in development: the Walking Tall Origin Sciences Camp for Advanced Educators and Learners and the Walking Tall Origin Sciences Career Guidance project.

‘Developing Africa’s Origin Sciences Capacity’

The Walking Tall Educational Theatre Project is PAST’s signature education initiative and the foundation of PAST’s overall mission. Walking Tall is a professional theatre production that inspires learners, educators and members of the general public to recognise, understand and value their ancient African Heritage. The 40-minute production ignites interest in science through the use of physical theatre. The quality of the project’s science is maintained by PAST’s CEO, Andrea Leenen, and PAST’s Scientific and Education Strategist, Prof. Robert Blumenschine. The quality of the theatre production is maintained by two directors, Greg Melvill-Smith and Craig Morris, both of whom are renowned South African actors.
Walking Tall is a mobile, cost-effective, and proven educational intervention and outreach mechanism that takes the audience on a journey through time from the origins of the Earth to present day, addressing Africa’s critical role in the shaping of humanity. It showcases the origin sciences as a career track in which African researchers can be global leaders. It exposes learners to applied evolution and the emerging career opportunities this field provides in agriculture, medicine and environmental remediation.
Since its inception in 2003, the project has reached almost one million people, primarily learners and educators, in South Africa, and also audiences in Namibia, Sweden and Belgium. The show is an effective educational tool whether performed in a large auditorium or under a tree in the veldt. In 2011, Walking Tall launched in Tanzania with 19 performances at the National Natural History Museum in Arusha to a total audience of over 4,000 learners and educators.
The Walking Tall show is followed by an interactive question-and-answer session that reinforces the basic principles of the origin sciences (deep time, natural selection, speciation, etc.) depicted in the performance. The Q&A session also addresses complex issues such as 1) skin color as a biological adaptation that poorly represents modern human diversity, and 2) the mistaken but common perception that science is in conflict with religion. The Walking Tall Project provides curriculum-based resource materials for learners and educators, educator workshops, and a monitoring and evaluation system. The educator workshops are an essential adjunct to the performances, and are led by a professional scientist and theatre artist. They are designed to improve instruction in evolution and genetics, and, more fundamentally, to help teachers expose learners to science in an entertaining and accessible manner that makes it relevant to their lives. Each workshop pools educators from a number of schools. The workshop includes a presentation on the basic concepts of palaeontology and genetics, and provides detailed explanations of complex evolutionary concepts. The workshops also provide information on the major iconic fossil discoveries from the host country and the continent as a whole. PAST has hosted successful workshops to thousands of educators in South Africa. Walking Tall is a highly sought-after programme in the communities in which it has performed, as measured by regular educator requests for repeat performances year after year. PAST receives many letters of appreciation from educators after their students have participated in the Walking Tall project. Below is feedback we have received after a Walking Tall’s performance and typifies educators’ reactions to the project:
I wish to convey my sincere thanks and gratitude to you and the entire team for the fantastic [Walking Tall] presentation.  Our [life sciences] learners thoroughly enjoyed the show and greatly appreciated the sterling work done.  It also had an impact on some of our drama students! I am sure that this presentation will assist me and the learners in a better understanding of Evolution.  I greatly appreciate the continuous explanations given as [the play] progressed.  The content pertained to our grade 12 syllabus and this made it interesting and worthwhile.

—S. Sarubdeo

HOD – Life Sciences, Greenside High School, Johannesburg, South Africa

Follow the Walking Tall East Africa Tour at the gallery

Acheulian stone tools TK Acheulian 002OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFossil bones at Elandsfontein site276

PAST reg. no. 508/95 Palaeosciences Centre University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg South Africa P O Box 203 Parklands 2121 Johannesburg South Africa

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