Return to Headlines

Persell Middle School 5th Graders Visit Costa Rican Rainforest

Persell Middle School fifth graders had the unique opportunity to visit the rainforest in Costa Rica thanks to Roger Tory Peterson Institute President Twan Leenders and high school students who are currently conducting research in the rainforest.

Mr. Leenders live-streamed in Persell’s auditorium showing students some of the landscape, introducing the researchers and showing the fifth-graders some of the creatures they have been studying as part of their English Language Arts rainforest unit.

“This was our third year of visiting the Costa Rican rainforest with Mr. Leenders and his students,” said Jefferson Middle School fifth grade teacher Mindy Trapani. “It started when Mr. Leenders’ daughter was in Mrs. Demorest’s fifth grade class. Mr. Leenders contacted Mrs. Demorest and we worked with JPS Technology Integration Coach Jason Kathman to make this experience possible for our fifth grade students.”

Students had the opportunity to see some of the tools and equipment scientists use to collect data while observing animals in the rainforest. Students also saw a variety of creatures living in the area such as birds, poison dart frogs, snakes, spiders, and even a rat. The on-line visit directly connects to what fifth grade students have been learning in the classroom during science and ELA.

Mr. Leenders also answered questions from students at Persell, such as, “Why did you choose to become a scientist? What discoveries have you made during your research? What is the most dangerous situation you faced while in the rainforest?”

The occasion was made possible by Leenders’ willingness and software called “Zoom.” The software was made available through Erie-2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES. With the Zoom software, a “room” is set up for a specific time and links are sent out to all parties. Then, with the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger, the three locations are connected.

“Because of tools like Zoom, we were able to easily connect fifth graders from Jamestown with Mr. Leenders who only had a cell phone in the middle of the Costa Rican Rainforest,” said Mr. Kathman. “If that's possible, then we can also bring in experts from any field, authors of books that our students are reading, or even other classrooms to connect with our students through video conferencing.”