What if the classroom was in the middle of the Amazon rainforest?
By Andressa Scabin e Júlio Cesar Voltolini
What if the class included feeling the forest floor beneath your feet? Coun flowers and fruits around? Estimate the height of the treetops? Count insects flying and jumping as we pass them? Assess how light and temperature change within the forest?
All of this is possible when we use the approach of Project-Based Learning (PBL), an active learning modality in which students observe natural phenomena, ask scientific questions, collect plus analyze their data, and finally present their data.
Using this approach, professors Júlio Cesar Voltolini and Andressa Bárbara Scabin conducted the field course in Conservation Biology between December 7th and 10th, 2021 for 20 high school students from Casa Familiar da Floresta, at the Campina Base located in Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Uacari.
Photo: Júlio Cesar Voltolini
During the course, students divided into 4 different groups to investigate scientific questions, which included, for example, a study on the abundance of the murumuru palm, a key species for oilseed extraction in the region.
Once the questions for each group were defined, the students went through all the stages of the scientific method, from field data collection, data systematization and analysis, report preparation and slide presentation using computer programs such as excel, word and powerpoint, and finished the course with an oral presentation of the results in an event simulating a scientific congress.
The course was concluded with the production of a book of summaries containing all the projects developed, which was made available to the students, but is also available for download on our website.
“During the course I acquired a lot of knowledge and various techniques and I will not keep this to myself, I will continue to expand it to my colleagues in the communities” Eleonilda Cunha high school student at Casa Familiar da Floresta who intends to pursue a career as a forest engineer.
O programa Cientistas da Floresta intends not only to bring courses and training such as the Conservation Biology course to motivate the training of local scientists, but also to provide opportunities for people from the communities to actively participate in scientific research projects conducted by the Instituto Juruá.