Transformational Learning in the Amazon

Field Notes From the Amazon

Pictures really ARE worth more than 1000 words!

For the last twenty years, the educators and students who participated in our Amazon Workshops have snapped amazing photos of rainforest biodiversity. Unfortunately, most of these photos have only been seen by a handful of friends and family – or worse they are in a shoebox under the bed!

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One has to wonder…what could we learn about rainforest biodiversity if we had access to all the photos taken over the last two decades? What if we could take all those photos and sort them by location and date and species? Would we be able to see patterns of distribution? Discern subtle changes in populations? Stumble upon something new and undiscovered?

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What if we could share these photos with the world and inspire wonder and curiosity and knowledge in the next generation of explorers who sit in our classrooms?

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Project Noah "Deep Roots" patch commemorating our 1 year anniversary

Project Noah “Deep Roots” patch commemorating our 1 year anniversary

Exactly one year ago we stumbled upon Project Noah; a tool that harnesses the power of digital photography, GPS, and mobile technology, and we immediately knew we had an answer. Finally the multitudes of photos that are taken each year in the Amazon could have a larger purpose!

Last summer, we launched a pilot of Project Noah during our Educator Workshop. The images in this post are from that expedition. Our initial goal was to shine a light on Amazon biodiversity and begin to construct a virtual field guide to the region we visit each summer. We created a “mission” on Project Noah and called it Species Spotlight: Peruvian Amazon.

Many of our participants uploaded their photos to our mission and created field notes for their observations. Experts from around the world took notice and helped with some of the species identification. Even today these photos are viewed and commented on as we continue to fill in the details for each spotting.

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For 2013, we are incorporating Project Noah more fully into our Educator Academy in the Amazon and are already working with educators across the country to connect our Amazon images to their classrooms. This year, in addition to simply capturing images of what we see, we will also use our Project Noah spottings to explore the themes of plant and animal adaptations, biomimicry, and climate change in the Amazon.

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Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but the curiosity they incite is priceless. 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!  How can you use these photos to incite curiosity?  What questions do they raise? What research might they prompt? Please respond in the comment box below.

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3 Comments

  1. Dotman on February 22, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Naturally, photos incite curiosity especially ones with unfamiliar subjects. Photographs in science tops the list including nature, space, engineering and technology, because there’s always something knew for man to learn or understand which is not effectively communicated via text alone (hence validating the saying that a picture may be worth a thousand words).
    Some relevant questions like where and where a photograph was taken often arises for a better appreciation of the work. Curiosity of viewers also accounts for questioning how a particular photograph was taken.
    Nature photographs are very important in observing subjects- plant or animals, and comparing species with others from other geographical location, region, zone or continent. In lepidoptery for instance, photographs are suitable to describe or explain subjects like polymorphism i.e. is appearance of forms or
    “morphs” differing in colour and number of
    attributes within a single species. And likewise camouflage, crypsis and mimicry.
    In addition, animal morphology and plant structure cannot be well understood without the aid of images or diagrams.

  2. Don Mercer on October 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    See link below for an image of a white-bellied spider monkey being held by Christa Dillabaugh at La Isla de los Monos, along with her camera, as in “Everybody wants to be a photographer these days!”

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201567339699748&set=gm.10151694613436279&type=1

    The image, in which I used green color fill to replace some of the background, made the “Friday Funny Foto Day” selection for a group to which I belong, Nature Lovers, on Facebook.

    Don Mercer, Rustic 41
    Member, 2013 Educator Academy

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