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Exploring the Rainforest Ecosystem
US Ecology Class Rainforest - 4th grade visitors

Sounds of wildlife emanated from Andrew Eldredge’s Upper School Ecology class, as juniors and seniors welcomed the Fourth Grade Science class with joyful mimicry of howler monkeys and macaws. The classroom lights were dimmed to simulate the lack of sunlight deep in the rainforest, while recordings of babbling water and other forest sounds wafted through the room. A projected image of the rainforest adorned the classroom wall.

This set the stage for the Ecology students to present a set of mini-lessons about the Amazon Rainforest, its importance as the “lungs of the Earth,” its unique role in regulating the global climate, and its vast biodiversity of plants and animals. As part of the curriculum, the Upper School students created a wall-sized replica of the entire rainforest ecosystem from forest floor to top of the canopy, including scale models of the birds, mammals, insects and plants that inhabit the ecosystem. The Ecology students then shared their knowledge about animals, biodiversity, deforestation, and conservation of our world’s rainforests with their fourth-grade pupils. 

In addition to teaching back what they have learned, each Ecology student completed a research assignment focusing on animals and plants of the Amazon Basin, choosing one organism about which to make a 3-D model and fact-card, before locating them in the proper structure level within the rainforest (floor, understory, canopy, emergent). “I encouraged each student to choose an aspect of the Amazon Rainforest that interested them the most,” remarks Mr. Eldridge, “because this makes their research more engaging and meaningful.”


To say the fourth graders were engaged would be a huge understatement:

“I love this class! My favorite animal is the toucan - there are so many details in their markings.”
Thea R-S., ’32 

“I want to visit the rainforest soon…like tomorrow. My favorite animal was the anaconda, because I like snakes.”
Noelle W., ’34

“My favorite part was the capybara, it’s cute and beautiful.”
Coralie M., ’34

The Upper School students shone equally brightly as teachers. “The kids remembered which canopy layer the animals came from,” remarked Carmelina C., ’24. “Connecting through animals really worked well for this group, and they understood the food web,” remarked Maya O. ’24. The visit ended with a moment of reflection, while everyone paused for a moment of silence, listening to the sounds of the rainforest, to think about why it is important to conserve the rainforest.

US Ecology Class Rainforest - 4th grade visitors