February 15, 2011 — The Rainforest Connection Live achieved another major milestone in its highly acclaimed interactive science education program by successfully conducting the first web-broadcast between students and scientists in four countries.
Students in grades 5 and 6 in Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, and the USA had a 45-minute long interactive discussion with CSAM’s Dr. Jackie Willis in Panama and botanist Linda Moskalyk and her colleagues in Costa Rica. The students and researchers shared information on their local forest conservation projects, reviewed the science that underlies forest preservation, and discussed how to make their local conservation efforts more effective.
“It was a fabulous experience for my students and me. It really made the learning come alive and become purposeful. My students are eager to do it again.” said Katrina Macht, the teacher of a Bridgewater-Raritan class that participated in the four-country broadcast.
The Rainforest Connection makes it possible for student groups to converse via videoconference with researchers in a rainforest in Panama. Dr. Jackie Willis, who conducts research projects on Barro-Colorado Island (BCI), a Smithsonian field station, directs the project.
“Students in Saskatoon (Canada) and New Jersey rarely meet scientists and don’t usually understand what they do as professionals. In fact, these two groups of students knew little about each other’s homelands and had lots of questions,” said Dr. Willis. “It was great fun to bring together people with a common purpose but disparate backgrounds to share ideas,” Dr. Willis added.
Launched in 2003, The Rainforest Connection Live is sponsored by PRISM, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching & Learning and the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, Verizon Access New Jersey, and The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama.
The award-winning interactive science education program reaches over 100 classrooms each year in 9 states, and has originated from rainforests in Panama, Belize, Thailand, and Australia.
The fully collaborative video connection technology that enables the broadcasts is provided by the Verizon Access New Jersey Video Portal. In addition to the live classroom broadcasts, Verizon also provides web-access to the Rainforest Connection programs: