Digital Dispatch: Biodiversity Quest in Chicago, Week #2

Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm

The second week of the Biodiversity Quest program at Bouchet Academy in Chicago exposed the middle school participants to the concepts of biodiversity and conservation biology. Merove Heifetz and Liana Vitali, from the ARKive team, visited the class and led them in several activities to help them understand the importance of maintaining a diversity of species around the world, as well as the many threats that species and their habitats encounter. The ARKive team took the students on a “safari” through the ARKive website that taught them more about threatened animals and plants around the world, but also required the students to learn the many ways you can search for species on the ARKive website, including by their threatened status, habitat, or geography. The students were excited to learn about animals they'd never heard of before like the Tennent's leafed-nosed lizard from Asia and the Atlantic royal flycatcher from South America. The young people were also intrigued to find out new facts about species they were already familiar with, like the koala. The ability to immediately access videos and photos of these species on the ARKive website helped the students become excited about the research they will have to do on the species highlighted in their quests.

The Biodiversity Quest participants were also able to use Skype to interview a conservation biologist from the Jane Goodall Institute. Lilian Pintea called the class from Washington, DC and talked about the importance of conservation of chimpanzees and why he became involved with this work. The students were eager to ask him questions about what he does and the species he works to save. One student asked, “What made you interested in Conservation Biology?” Lilian replied, “After learning so much about different species, I realized the impact that we all have on many levels - social, economic, political — on the well-being of a species and the responsibility we have to take action.”

Stay tuned for the next update from the Biodiversity Quest program at Bouchet Academy!