project rainforst blog image
 
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.

MYP climate change blog image

According to Scientific American, “deforestation in tropical rainforests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads.”  Specifically:

“The reason that logging is so bad for the climate is that when trees are felled they release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere, where it mingles with greenhouse gases from other sources and contributes to global warming accordingly. The upshot is that we should be doing as much to prevent deforestation as we are to increase fuel efficiency and reduce automobile usage.”

Are children learning about the causes of climate change in the classroom?

This would come as a surprise to many of America’s science teachers, 30% of whom are still telling their students that climate change is the result of “natural causes.”  An equal number are teaching that the case for climate change being man-made is “unsettled science.”  Among those who do spend time discussing the scientific case for climate change, on average they devote an hour or less to the subject.  That’s not surprising, considering the vast amount of curricular material K-8 teachers are required to cover in a given calendar year.  The bottom line, however, is that America’s children do not acquire even rudimentary knowledge about climate change and its causes in the classroom.

Are parents picking up the slack?

A recent Monmouth University poll found that most Americans’ understanding of climate change and its causes is woefully deficient.  Fewer than 30% of survey respondents agreed that climate change is due principally to human activity.  Most parents simply don’t have the time to read scientific journals, receiving what little information they have on media reports and politicians whose views on the subject tend to be partisan rather than objective.  In addition, parents assume that students get the information they need in the classroom.

What can K-8 schools do?

Fortunately, there’s a solution.  For more than a quarter century, Mind Your Planet has provided K-8 schools throughout the mid-Atlantic region with solidly educational assembly programs which address important cultural and scientific issues like multiculturalism, diversity, and endangered species.  Our presenters have both the knowledge and skill to provide this important information in an entertaining format, utilizing multi-media tools and audience participation.  The result:  students leave both better informed and inspired to learn even more. Among our more popular presentations is one which teaches children about climate change, among other important issues:  Project Rainforest.

Inspiring the imagination

When it comes to teaching children, the rule of thumb is that you have to grab their attention and capture their imagination.  In all of our presentations, we utilize tools like video, storytelling and audience participation to do just that.  Project Rainforest, for example, includes a seven-minute video that demonstrates the interconnection between these forests and their indigenous animals, and lets children see first-hand the impact of deforestation.

Students who participate in this assembly leave with an increased understanding of and appreciation for not only the relationship between deforestation and climate change, but also the diversity of life in this delicate ecosystem, the many products which come from the rainforest for human use, and its stunning beauty.

Opportunities for continued learning in the classroom

Project Rainforest inspires children to learn more after they leave the presentation, providing teachers the opportunity to develop innovative lesson plans which extend and deepen their understanding.  For example, teachers can ask students to write essays on their experience, engage in special projects, and create oral presentations in which they share the results of individual research.

To learn more about Mind Your Planet, or to schedule a presentation for your school, please contact us today. 

MYP rainforests

Are you looking for a way to help students understand the importance of conserving our remaining rainforests? Have you recently completed, or are you planning a unit on ecosystems? Is there as much information as you want in the texts and supplemental materials provided? Do your students need something fun to keep them motivated to learn?  Mind Your Planet has the right program for you!

Project Rainforest 

The erosion of the world's rainforests is a complex issue and one that needs attention. Children growing up today must understand why rainforests are important to the diversity, and survival of our planet. An all-school assembly, a grade-level assembly, or a special interest assembly are a few ways to include this fantastic 45-minute presentation in your school's or classroom's curriculum.  Here are a few ways the children in your group will benefit from our Project Rainforest assembly. 

• We describe the natural rainforest ecosystem and give illustrations of what this looks like throughout the presentation. Plants, insects, animals, and people are all part of this diverse habitat. When one species is out-of-balance, the others suffer. A seven-minute video shows animals that depend on the rainforest for survival and loggers clear-cutting a rainforest in Central America. Children see the impact of deforestation on the various plant and animal species.

• A focus on the appreciation for the beauty and diversity of life in the rainforests helps children appreciate the aesthetic value of this wonderland. The scope of diversity in this almost magical place is staggering. Discoveries of never-before-seen species of insects, plants, animals, and fungi regularly occur with far-reaching effects for medicine and life improvement. These discoveries are even more vital than preserving the beauty.  

• We feature everyday products that come from the rainforest such as chocolate, rubber, tea, and chewing gum. Easily expand these topics in the classroom after the program is over. Children extend their learning when researching these everyday items and exploring subjects like, how far these products travel from their origin, harvesting techniques, the impact on the environment from harvesting, and determining how to improve stewardship of the rainforests. 

• We address climate change and global warming, a major concern for our earth today. Climate change is significantly affected by the condition and the prevalence of rainforests which act as a filter for our atmosphere. Children learn more about the effects of global warming when the rainforests silently disappear, and why it is so critical to reverse this trend. 

• We discuss ways to use rainforest products without destroying habitats and environments. Children learn about "green living" with rainforest products and which species are in danger of extinction from over-harvesting.  

• The primary goal is an awakened sense of the importance of Rainforests in children's, and everyone's lives.  Many are moved to take steps to help save the rainforests through personal action. Again, classes and individual children seek out ways to implement this information. A classroom or school-wide project to impact the effects of deforestation, or to raise funds to help struggling families living in deplorable poverty in the rainforests, or other actions, such a political action, often follows. 

We keep all of our program costs reasonable so we can reach as many children with this important message as possible.

Project Rainforest is suitable for kids from kindergarten through eighth grades. The video, discussion, hands-on learning, and storytelling are some of the presentation methods used. Individual classrooms, all-school assemblies, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, home-schooling groups, summer camps and community children's programs are all welcomed to contact us for more information about reserving a presentation for your group. 

Only skilled actors and educators are employed for our presentations, to make sure the entire performance holds children's interest, while they learn and enjoy.  

Additional programs are available. For enthusiastic references and testimonials from teachers around the United States and a list of our programs, visit our website, Mind Your Planet.

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