Fermilab LInC Online



Student Pages
Index of Projects

Subject: Language Arts, Social Studies, Cultural Studies, Civics, Ethnobotany

Grade Level: 6-8/ pre-service English teachers


This project is for eighth grade students and will be facilitated by pre-service English teachers. Students will use the Internet, library resources, personal interviews, and current events to research and identify the effects of the diminishing rainforests and how these events are directly related to their local community in terms of economic development and environmental impact. Our example, which is only meant to be a model,  is the medicinal use of plants as a disappearing resource.  Students will have the flexibility to investigate and develop their own issues.  Through personal interviews and research, students will explore the scope of the problem and generate questions and issues based upon their research. Next, students will investigate the effect of economic development on natural resources.  In collaborative groups, students will identify issues that they find relevant and/or have potential impact on their own region or community.

The importance of this project is that students tend to look at global issues as having no effect on them.  By studying the effects of the depletion of the rainforest in terms of a cultural, economic, and environmental dynamic, students will better understand the complexity of issues in their own community and will become better decision-makers and informed citizens.

Learner Description/Environment:

The students are 6-8 graders and pre-service teachers.  The class will be held in both venues in the computer lab.  There are  twenty-four students and six pre-service teachers who will serve as project mentors to the middle school students. Students are divided into groups of four, and each group is assigned one mentor.

Time Frame:

Each middle school student will devote at least 2.5 hours of class time a week to the project and at least three hours a week to outside research.  Mentors will devote all of their class time, approximately three hours a week, to the project.  Mentors will each decide how much time is neccessary for them to spend on the project outside of class.  The project will run a full semester, approximately four months

Learner Outcomes:

1) Students will investigate the destruction of the tropical rainforest as a global problem in terms of economics, cultural studies, and environmental development.

2) Students will develop a method for analyzing and recognizing the effects of the diminishing rain forests on their everyday lives and demonstrate specific results from their research.

3)  Students will develop a list of issues based on their interests and research.

4)  Students will compare global and local issues and determine similarities and common aspects.

5)  From the observations that students make, they will be asked to create a model for an environmental impact study that can be applied to their own community.


Save the rain forest! As little as 5 percent of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil may remain as pristine forest by 2020! Every year, more and more resources are being depleted worldwide.  The debate over the destruction of natural resources usually centers around the idea of economic necessity and improved lifestyles for the local inhabitants.  Even though these events seem to occur in remote locations, similar, but less devastating events are happening in your local community.  The effects of economic development are not just a remote problem, it effects your community as well..  Can you identify and define these relationships?

Our Example - Students will investigate the consequences of the destruction of the tropical rain forest and the subsequent extinction of useful herbs and other medicinal plants.  Students will learn where most of our medicine has come from, and if there is any scientific basis for the use of herbal medicines.  In collaborative research groups, students will identify potential topics and generate research questions relating to the use of herbs and medicinal plants and how they will affect them in the future. In addition, students will be asked to consider any parallels between what is happening to the rain forests around the world and what might be happening in their own community, state, or region. Also, they will interview parents, grand parents, and neighbors to collect information on home remedies and uses of herbs. Since the information they hold is purely oral history, what will happen to the rich oral tradition after the destruction of the rainforest?


Although this pattern of destruction seems to occur in remote locations, students will determine the ways in which the loss of the rain forest mightl affect their lives. One possible question that students might want to address is whether modern science will be able to compensate for the loss of  traditional healing plants that have been used since the beginning of recorded time.  Students might decide to investigate the effect of mining on water quality.  They could also investigate the effects of the timber industry on the rainforest.  After selecting a topic, students will structure a plan for gathering information on their issue.


Students are working in groups developing website designs that will effectively demonstrate the scope of their research and allow them to present their observations in a logical framework. Students will develop strategies for interactivity, including the ability to answer questions from viewers of their site and to add ( and delete as needed) newly discovered and related issues as they develop. This site will be designed with the idea that it will be updated by future project participants. It will serve as a resource for investigating a wide range of environmental issues.

Best Use of Technology:

Students will collaborate with students in other regions of the world via email, virtual chat, and
discussion boards to compare cultural trends in their respective areas. Students will use streaming video, digital cameras, and other electronic resources in their research. Students will use the internet as a medium for publishing their work and as a valuable research resource. Students will create a collaborative, interactive website that will demonstrate their research.  Their website can either be used as a resource model for other students, or, as a framework for an environmental impact study.  Students will be responsible for maintaining and updating the website with current and relevant information.


Our project will be assessed based upon the degree to which students demonstrate an understanding of their particular issues. This will be determined by the quality of field journals, individual presentations of learning at the end of the project, and contributions to the collaborative website.

Project Evaluation:

The project is one that will evolve and change with future student groups.  This portion will be considered successful if the student website effectively demonstrates the scope of student research and presents their observations in a logical context.

Alignment with Standards

(North Carolina Department of Public Education State Standards for 9th Grade)

1)  The learner will use strategies and processes that enhance control of communication skills development.

2)  The learner will apply preparation strategies to comprehend or convey experiences and information.

3)  The learner will apply response strategies to comprehend or convey experiences and information.

4)  The learner will use language for the acquisition, interpretation, and application of information.

5)  The learner will identify, collect, or select information and ideas.

6)  The learner will develop criteria and evaluate the quality, relevance, and importance of the information and ideas.

7)  The learner will respond to the personal, social, cultural, and historical significance of selections or personal experiences.


The Technology Outreach Project©



Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Author(s): Names of all authors (jeffrey@ncat.edu, otovoa@ncat.edu, abondolo@hotmail.com, lisap@aol.com)
School: Anyschool, Anytown, USA
Created: February 15, 1977- Updated: April 18, 2001
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/lincon/w01/projects/herbs/present.html