Science in the Field

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WRITTEN BY

lhanson
Nov 18, 2014


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Education, Science

Science in the Field

The environmental science class sets out to explore the mangrove ecosystem of Guaratiba with Amigos do Perigoso.
The environmental science class sets out to explore the mangrove ecosystem of Guaratiba with Amigos do Perigoso.

 

"I had my favorite lecture of my entire college experience when Professor Polozov talked with us in the middle of the mangroves, as we were all sitting on our paddle boards taking in our surroundings," said James Stockman. Teaching in the field allowed students to learn more about what they were seeing at that moment.
“I had my favorite lecture of my entire college experience when Professor Polozov talked with us in the middle of the mangroves, as we were all sitting on our paddle boards taking in our surroundings,” said James Stockman. Teaching in the field allowed students to learn more about what they were seeing at that moment.

Just outside the city limits, environmental science students learned there was a whole other side of Rio de Janeiro to explore. The town of Barra de Guaratiba was home to a secluded beach, beautiful water, and most importantly a complex mangrove ecosystem.

This area remained a relatively untouched natural wonder and was a safe haven to much of the wildlife in that region. With the density of mangroves so significant and their need to be rooted in salt water, there was only one way for students to explore them…on paddleboards. As they weaved in and out of the mangroves, students paddled themselves as close as possible to examine the hidden wildlife and reproductive process of these trees. “It was so up-close and tangible that we could see exactly what we were learning about in class,” said Taylor Hooper, from Ferris State University.

Being physically and academically challenged at the same time, helped to engage students in their curriculum and lab experience.  “If you succeed in connecting different dimensions of student life… then they learn,” said Professor Sergei Polozov.

Transitioning to the restingas ecosystem, discoveries continued to unfold along the students’ hike. Hummingbirds, heliconias, and even a sloth, each step unveiled a new surprise. The variety of plants and animals they discovered were a sign that these ecosystems were extremely healthy and a welcoming home to their natural friends. “It was interesting to see how it all worked together ­– the plants, the insects, the animals,” said Hooper.

Brazil proved to be a hub of scientific discoveries. With a varying landscapes, there were no limitations on what was hiding under the next leaf or hanging from the trees above. Students were able to explore these ecosystems and see how they are respected and cared for by the local population. 

“I think that it was a unique opportunity to see multiple different ecosystems. We saw the ocean, the mangroves, the forest, as well as the beach.  This lets us clearly see the great variance between each ecosystem as well as the impacts that the ecosystems and humans have on life around it,” said James Stockman, from University of Georgia.

Professor Polozov follows his students through the mangroves and they get close to the trees roots. “I was also fascinated by the manor in which the mangrove is impacted by the rising and falling water level.  It is incredible to see species that can survive in its always changing environment,” said student James Stockman.
Students record the temperature, humidity, and geographical coordinates of each location for their field journals.
Students record the temperature, humidity, and geographical coordinates of each location for their field journals.
Left: Students uncover insects hiding under vegetation with the assistance of Professor Polozov. Right: A sloth is discovered hanging from a tree while hiking through Praihna.
Left: Students uncover insects hiding under vegetation with the assistance of Professor Polozov. Right: A sloth is discovered hanging from a tree while hiking through Praihna.
The environmental science class hikes through Parque Natural Municipal da Prainha in Brazil.
The environmental science class hikes through Parque Natural Municipal da Prainha in Brazil.
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One Comment

  1. Karen White
    November 19, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Hi from Sydney Australia. What a beautiful spot – if only all classrooms could be like that! What a privilege to experience it. Glad to see you have your hat on Rory!!!

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