LUQ - Take a Journey to El Yunque

Network News Spring 2003, Vol. 16 No. 1
Site News

A New Education Project at Luquillo LTER

Researchers at LUQ LTER have teamed up with the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) at Wheeling Jesuit University and the U.S. Forest Service to teach middle-school students about the effects of hurricanes on El Yunque rainforest. The CET has recently been awarded a three-year grant from NSF to develop “Journey to El Yunque” — a four-week, Web-based curriculum unit. The Web site features stunning panoramic views of the rainforest and engaging background reading material. In the culminating activity students manipulate models of population dynamics in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. The models are based on the research being conducted at LUQ LTER.

When complete, the Web site will replace the four-week ecology unit students normally study in middle school. Students using “Journey to El Yunque” will learn about food web dynamics and energy flow within an ecosystem. The program will provide a solid foundation for students participating in the Schoolyard LTER pro-gram. A prototype of the Web site is available at

Steven McGee, senior educational researcher at the CET, and Jess Zimmerman, co-PI of LUQ LTER, presented the prototype in January at the third annual Symposium on Long-Term Ecological Research in Puerto Rico, held in conjunction with the LUQ LTER annual meeting. McGee and Zimmerman provided attendees with a demonstration of the program and an explanation of the science underlying the models used in the program.

While in Puerto Rico, the CET hosted four middle-school teachers from the U.S. and two teachers from Puerto Rico who received training on the use of the prototype. The teachers gained hands-on experience with the Web site. In addition, teachers had the opportunity to discuss strategies for integrating the Web site into their classes. The teachers will be testing the prototype of the Web site during the spring semester. After the workshop, McGee led the teachers on a hike through El Yunque so they could obtain first-hand experience with the rainforest.

The CET is recruiting middle-school life science teachers who would like to participate in the next phase of Web site testing. Teachers will receive funding to attend a two-day summer workshop at the CET.

Please refer interested teachers to Jennifer Kirby (