Through on-the-scene field reports, photographs, interviews
with scientists and others on the site, students will discover
firsthand how Earthwatch teams study animals in their environment
and work to preserve these endangered ecosystems. Students will
have the opportunity to read firsthand accounts of the explorer
teams' field reports, a transcript of an interview with the wildcat
scientist and a teacher-volunteer about her caterpillar research.
Students will read the transcript of a bulletin board discussion
between Scholastic.com users and the student team traveling to
Brazil to study the river otters. Students will have the opportunity
to ask their own questions of scientist Dr. Alexine Keuroghlian
from the Pantanal and Endangered Ecosystems during a live interview
on April 29th, 11 a.m.12 p.m. ET. Students will also use interactive
online technology to explore food webs and create caterpillars
that fit their environment. This project is suitable for students
in grades 4–8. See Lesson Planning Suggestions for a prescribed
plan on using this project with your students.
The activities in the "Explorer's Endangered Ecosystems"
project can be used with grades 4–8.
The mission page serves as an introduction to the Scholastic
Explorer's Endangered Ecosystem project. Students learn about
the Earthwatch Institute, which works to preserve our cultural
heritage and natural resources. Students will also gain background
knowledge about the specific endangered ecosystem that they will
There are three Endangered Ecosystem explorer field sites:
Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve Mexico
Students visit the tropical dry forests of southwestern Mexico.
The explorer team there is focusing on wildcats including the
jaguar, ocelot, and puma because of their importance to the food
web. The team is there to find out more about the large carnivores
that occupy the top of the food chain. The disappearance of these
predators can have dire consequences on the forest's biodiversity.
If scientists can learn how to preserve these carnivores, they
have a better chance of preserving the rest of the ecosystem.
La Selva Biological Preserve, Costa Rica
Students explore a biological reserve in a Costa Rican tropical
rainforest. The explorer team there collects and studies the eating
habits, life cycle, and defense mechanisms of the tropical caterpillar.
Scientists are hoping to find many new species of caterpillars
as well as learning more about the hundreds of recently discovered
species. Researchers are curious about the effect of the eating
patterns of the caterpillars on the rainforest. They'd also like
to find out more about the caterpillars' place in the rain forest
Fazenda Rio Negro, Pantanal, Brazil
Students travel to the world's largest freshwater wetlands.
The explorer team of students will study the habitat of the river
otter. Scientists are hoping to find out why the river otter is
going extinct in some parts of Brazil and are hoping to find ways
to help preserve the otters' ecosystem and protect them from further
There are three sets of field reports, one for each expedition.
Dr. Carlos López González posted field reports from the Chamela,
Mexico, site expedition were in 1999. Students will be
able to read about scientific findings and animal sightings at
the explorer site. Science teacher Shauneen Giudice posted her
field reports about her experiences in Costa Rica.
Finally the Hudson High School "Brazilian River Otter"
Earthwatch team posted field reports from their expedition to Brazil in 2003.
Meet an Explorer
Costa Rican Caterpillars
Students can meet the team members by reading a biography
of teacher-host Shauneen Giudice from the Costa Rican caterpillar
site. They can also read a transcript of a student interview from
Students can meet Dr. Carlos López González, who is in charge
of the Chamela project on wildcats, and they can read a transcript
of an interview from 1999 when students asked scientist Dr. López
González about what it is like to track wildcats in the tropical
Brazilian River Otters
Students can meet the Hudson High School students who are
studying river otters in Brazil's Pantanal. Students can read
a transcript of a question and answer bulletin board from 2003.
Students can also meet Students will have the opportunity to meet scientist Dr. Alexine Keuroghlian from the Pantanal and Endangered Ecosystems and ask their own questions during a live interview on April 29th, 11 a.m.12 p.m. ET.
Be an Explorer
Students have the opportunity to use the knowledge they have
gained about fieldwork to explore an ecosystem of their own. They
will make observations and collect field samples. Afterward, they
research information to learn more about their observations. Finally,
they share their data and experiences.
Interactive Food Web
Students explore the intricacies of the dry tropical forest ecosystem.
By interacting with the food web, students learn how plants, insects,
and animals are all connected in the ecosystem. They then complete
a skill sheet and analyze the importance of each food web organism.
Build a Caterpillar
Using interactive online technology, students use their understanding
of structure and function to build caterpillars that fit into
Scholastic's Online Activities are designed to support the teaching
of standards-based skills. While participating in the "Scholastic
Explorers Endangered Ecosystems" project, students become
proficient with several of these skills. Each skill below is linked
to its point of use in the Teacher's Guide. In the course of participating
in this project, students will:
- Discuss the importance of preserving endangered ecosystems.
- Use graphic organizers to order their questions and discoveries.
- Read online texts from the Field Reports to build comprehension
of the nature of scientific inquiry.
- Demonstrate an understanding of content by participating
in a question and answer discussion of their reading.
- Interact with a food web and gain an understanding of animal
- Complete a skill sheet and draw conclusions about the effects
of change on the food web.
- Read online texts from the field site to build comprehension
about the rain forest and wetland environments and their organisms.
- Demonstrate an understanding of diversity and adaptations
of organisms by participating in a question and answer discussion
of their reading.
- Interact with online technology to build caterpillars that
are suited to their environment.
- Discuss how the student-built caterpillars' structure and
function help them fit into their environment.
- Participate in a bulletin board with the student and scientist
explorers studying river otters.
- Investigate a local ecosystem by making observations and
- Use a variety of technological and informative resources
to conduct research and analyze data about the ecosystem.
- Write about the characteristics and changes in the ecosystem.