In the exciting “Mexican Wild Cats” activity (grades 4–8), the Earthwatch Institute and Scholastic offer students the unique opportunity to study this species with research teams on location at the endangered Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve, a Mexican tropical dry forest.
Through videos, photos, background articles, and field reports from the site, students learn about the wild cats and other carnivores important to the conserving the forest. Students also get an understanding of the Earthwatch team’s research, and why scientific study of natural populations is important.
- First, students read up on the wildcats (and other local carnivores) and study the field site — the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve of Mexico.
- An expedition map helps students grasp the geographic location of the field site.
- Seven detailed field reports share information on various wild cats, how the Earthwatch experts identify animal tracks, how they radio-track cats and other carnivores, and more.
- Students then Meet an Explorer, biologist Carlos LÃ³pez GonzÃ¡lez from the Ecology Institute in Veracruz, Mexico, who has studied wild cats and other predators in the Mexican tropical dry forest since 1992.
- By exploring ecosystems near their home with help from Scholastic, and documenting their findings, students can Be an Explorer.
- Finally, students can Build a Food Web, an interactive activity that challenges them to investigate some of the animals in the Mexican ecosystem.
While participating in the “Mexican Wildcats” activity, 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
- Interact with a food web and gain an understanding of animal eating habits.
- 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