“It was cool to be a scientist for a day,” said Amanda Brody, 8. Brody and other students at the McLean School of Maryland spent time in a rainforest when The Rolling Rainforest, a mobile exhibit operated by Discovery Creek Children’s Museum, made a stop at the school.
From May 5-7, students in grades K-6 had the opportunity to go through the 48-foot trailer. The trailer is designed to look like a scientific research outpost in a rainforest. A bamboo shack with folding tables is ensconced in reproductions of trees, insects, and other animals, and one live snake.
“Every time you go in there, you see something different,” said Jennie Huttler, science chair at McLean.
The students are given assignments in a variety of scientific disciplines. “I was an ichthyologist,” said Aiden Clawson, 9, of Potomac.
They are placed into groups and given a data set. “They conduct experiments to see if something changed in the last 10 years,” said Traci Price, a teacher who works for Discovery Creek.
Students generally found that there had been changes. “There are much more chemicals in the water,” said Lucas Lundell, 9, of Washington.
The students were excited about having the opportunity. “I want to do more of this,” Clawson said.
The exhibit gave the students an opportunity to apply classroom lessons. “Through our curriculum, we basically talk about the rainforest,” Huttler. She believes that this exhibit helps to crystallize lessons that have been learned. “You can touch it, smell it, feel it,” she said.
Martha Ein, a third grade teacher at the school agrees. “If they see it and they feel it, they remember,” she said.
They did remember. Brody recited from memory information about insect species. “There were 61 and now there’s nine,” she said.
They also seemed to have taken away a larger lesson about biodiversity.
“Basically, they were all connected,” Lundell said.