Panama's rainforest will come into United States classrooms this week, with live videoconferencing from a tropical forest research facility. The broadcasts will be converted to streaming video for website viewing and archiving. Dr. Jacalyn Willis, director of PRISM (Professional Resources in Science and Mathematics) at Montclair State University's College of Science and Mathematics, and Gregory Willis will present five sessions in both English and Spanish to classes in New Jersey and Texas during the week of February 10.
The Willises created the Rainforest Connection, an interactive email project, seven years ago. The husband and wife team write regular journal entries for students back in New Jersey, where they live most of the year, and students may correspond with the team in Panama. The Rainforest Connection is coordinated by PRISM, which provides services to school districts in the teaching of science and mathematics. The research team in Panama has posted regular journal entries on the Rainforest Connection website (http://rainforest.montclair.edu), describing what they see and experience as they carry out their projects in the forest. The Rainforest Connection is a useful source for background information on forests, how researchers study animals, basic ecological principles, animal ecology, photos, video clips, interviews with scientists, and lesson plans. The website has a Spanish language version as well, to include bilingual students in the United States and students in Latin American countries. Teachers are using the Rainforest Connection materials to prepare their students for this week's videoconference discussions.
New Jersey schools participating in the project include Passaic Valley Regional High School and schools in the districts of East Orange, Paterson, Park Ridge, Passaic, Garfield, Bayonne and Kearny. Several schools from the Temple, Texas Independent School District will also participate.