K-8 School Assembly Programs: Project Rainforest

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The rainforest. It's dark and it's hot. It covers less than two percent of the earth's area, yet it is home to more than fifty percent of the earth's plant and animal species. It is beautiful, it is diverse, and it is threatened.

Project Rainforest is an engaging assembly program offered by Mind Your Planet, available for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The approximately 45 minute-long assembly features a short video from Mind Your Planet founder, Bruce Segal, featuring images of the wildlife he encountered during his eight trips to the rainforest of Central America.

The hot, moist climate of the rainforest, as well as the plentiful vegetation it provides, allows for thousands of insects, amphibians and reptiles, birds, and mammals to survive and thrive in the rainforest. Project Rainforest gives students a glimpse into the incredible variety of the rainforest's inhabitants, including the people who live in the area.

The rainforest's inhabitants -- both past and present -- are a fascination to the rest the world, with archeologists routinely making journeys there to find lost cities or to better understand the treasures from days gone by. They're particularly interested in the legendary White City of Honduras, also known as the Lost City of the Monkey God, which is said to have been made entirely out of white stone. The city was mentioned in a 1526 letter to the spanish emperor and was rumored to contain more riches than all of Mexico, according to a 2013 story published by the New Yorker. Interest in finding the lost city ramped up in the 1930s with a number of expeditions. Every once in a while, someone claims to find it, though some deny its existence, stating that limestone cliffs are what people see and believe to be buildings of white stone.

In addition to a diverse wildlife population, the rainforest is also the bearer of a number of common products, including chocolate, chewing gum, tea, and rubber. The assembly will use student volunteers to show how these products are harvested.

While agriculture in the rainforest provides everyday goods, and a large portion of the wood used in the world as well as the paper products made from wood originates in the rainforest, agriculture and logging contribute to deforestation -- one of the largest threats that the rainforest faces. According to National Geographic, the continued rate of deforestation could cause all of the world's rainforests to completely vanish within one hundred years.

While climate change impacts the health of rainforests, deforestation not only destroys the habitat of the wildlife that lives within the rainforest, but contributes to climate change as well, due to greenhouse gasses from downed trees escaping into the air as well as from the loss of canopy that holds moisture in the soil and prevents extreme temperature fluctuations.

A healthy rainforest, however, can absorb harmful greenhouse gasses from the air, which slows global warming. After attending the Project Rainforest assembly, students will not only have a greater appreciation for the beauty and the diversity of the rainforest, but also for its importance to the earth's survival as a whole. Students will learn to identify ways that the rainforests can still be relied on for the products they produce, without the habitat being destroyed. They will also learn ways that they can personally support the protection of the rainforests through conservation and other measures and also about political calls for action.

Project Rainforest is available to groups of up to 300 students at a time. Schools wishing to have the program shown to more than one group of students in the same half-day are eligible for a discount. For more information about this or the other K-8 assembly programs that Mind Your Planet offers, or to schedule your assembly, contact us.

Written by : Bruce Segal