Thailand Rainforest

Gibbon with baby

Thailand Video Chat Reflection

By Brady Feuer

            On Monday, June 4, 2012, our second period language arts class had a wonderful video chat with Dr. Willis, her husband Greg, and their amazing colleague, Anna Mazzaro.  During this video chat, not only did I have a great time, but I also learned so much new information about land leeches, frogs, gibbons, and elephants.  My favorite moments in the chat were when we learned about the blood sucking land leeches and the beautiful, elegant Indian elephants.

            One of the discussion topics that intrigued me most was that in Thailand, there are land leeches. I found this both gross and fascinating, at the same time. Greg told us about now he would be ordinarily walking in the jungle when the next thing he realizes is that there is a blotch of blood on him, and of course it could only be one thing, land leeches. Luckily, there is a solution he told us. There are super high boots that go up to your waist. So when a land leach thinks it found it’s next meal, they soon find out they are trying to suck blood out of rubber, which does not work too well. That was one piece of information on the grosser side of what we learned.

            Another cool topic I learned about was Indian elephants. I learned how they are very rare to find in the wild, and that is why when Dr.Willis, Greg and Anna found one in Thailand, they were so amazed. They also told us how amazingly beautiful these animals are.  These elephants are smaller than African elephants, but let that not be deceiving, because these elephants can still do damage, especially when they or their babies feel threatened. When this happens, Greg said, they get aggressive. So, in the end, it’s best to let them live normally in a natural environment.

            Overall, I learned a lot from this videoconference and at the same time had a blast. I learned about leeches, frogs, gibbons, and even Asian elephants. I loved this video chat about their trip to Thailand and can’t wait to go there myself when I get older.

 Anna measures a giant tree fungus in Thailand.

Anna measures a giant tree fungus in Thailand.

Thailand Video Chat

June 4, 2012
By Jamisha Amin

            On June 1, Mrs. Macht’s language arts class had a videoconference with Dr. Willis, her husband, Greg, and their colleague, Anna Mazzaro.  Although we had some difficulties with the connection, I learned so many amazing things.

            One of our first discussion topics was about the land leeches that are in Thailand.  In order to avoid being bitten hikers have to wear protective socks that go up their pants legs.  I was so surprised and wondered why leeches are found on land.  I had never heard of that before. 

            Another discussion we had was about the gibbons and Mr. Willis even was kind enough to make the sound gibbons make to mate.  Dr. Willis shared a lot of information about gibbons with us, and said that these apes have many different colors.  Before this video chat I thought that apes of the same species would all have the same color.  Looks like I was wrong!

            I really enjoyed the overall video chat experience and learned so many new things.  Best of all, it was very relaxed and filled with lots of laughter and easy communication.  I hope to have another one before the end of the school year.

 Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

For more information on gibbons visit this page.

Thailand Video Conference Reflection

June 6, 2012
By Olalla Duato

            Surprises!  Who doesn’t love an unexpected treat?  And how much more special could it get when it is an intriguing videoconference with three extraordinary scientists exploring Thailand?  On June 1st, Mrs. Macht’s reading class got a glimpse into the wonders of the Thai rainforest from scientists Dr. and Mr. Willis, and their assistant, Anna.  From how to protect yourself from land leeches to spotting Asian elephants in the wild, I believe this videoconference was definitely among my favorites.  Even though a continuous chorus of frogs drowned out the scientists’ voices half of the time, I found myself enthralled and totally fascinated by their stories.  Maybe it was the miscellaneous topics, the suspenseful tales, or the captivating photos that we received to compliment their narrative, but this videoconference may have reached the pinnacle in favorite experiences this school year.  I may be leaving sixth grade in a few weeks, along with the interesting surprises that come with it, but I know I will never forget this videoconference with scientists in Thailand.

Anna and our guide Ruan explore among the old trees of Khao Yai National Park.
Anna and our guide Ruan explore among the old trees of Khao Yai National ark.