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Brazilian River Otters: An Endangered Ecosystems Activity

In this exciting activity, students “travel” to Brazil with other students and a research team to study this endangered native animal.


3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Activity Type

  • Activities and Games

The Earthwatch Institute and Scholastic have teamed up to offer students the engaging Brazilian River Otters activity (grades 4–8). Students take off on an expedition to Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands to study river otters with scientists, teachers — and other students!

Through field reports, videos, and photos from the field site, students learn how an explorer team from Hudson High School and the experts collect information on mammals and their food sources while exploring the world's largest wetlands, a unique, endangered ecosystem.


  • First, students read about Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands and the river otters that inhabit it. They also learn how students from Hudson High School are there to assist the lead scientist in figuring why the giant river otter is going extinct in certain areas of Brazil.
  • Students can also read 14 detailed field reports documented by the Hudson High School Earthwatch team that show how the team gathered data, spotted the otters, set “track traps” in the Pantanal’s hot, humid conditions, and analyzed their findings.
  • The Field Director of Earthwatch's Conservation Research Initiative in Brazil's Pantanal discusses her work to protect this unique ecosystem.
  • Students can also meet the 2003 explorer team from Hudson High School, whose goal was to experience real field research science.
  • Students can Be an Explorer by making a simple track trap with help from Scholastic, then analyze the data and share their experience.



Learning Objectives

While participating in the Brazilian River Ottersactivity, students will:

  • Discuss the importance of preserving endangered ecosystems
  • Read online texts from the Field Reports to build comprehension of the nature of scientific inquiry
  • Read online texts from the field site to build comprehension about the rain forest and wetland environments and their organisms
  • Investigate a local ecosystem by making observations and collecting samples
  • Use a variety of technological and informative resources to conduct research and analyze data about the ecosystem
  • Write about the characteristics and changes in the ecosystem






Susan Cheyney

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