Wild Amazon: Education Worksheet

Video highlights from Wild Amazon

School Level: Upper Primary, Junior Secondary, Senior Secondary

SCHOOL LEVEL
Upper Primary
Junior Secondary
Senior Secondary


EDUCATION DESCRIPTION
From elusive jaguar to giant waterlilies that trap beetles and change sex overnight; turtles that strike as fast as a snake to spiders protecting frogs; enter the heart of the world’s greatest river basin. Home to the planet’s largest rainforest and mightiest river, there is more diversity of life here than anywhere else. But it's still a mysterious realm where scientists constantly discover new life forms and behaviour. Stunning photography showcases the Amazon’s diversity and colour, along with its indigenous inhabitants. Explore the extraordinary adaptations and relationships that have developed as plants, animals and humans struggle for survival, and battle increasing threats from human development.

TEACHER BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Amazon Basin, dominating the northern half of South America, is home to ten percent of Earth’s plant and animal species. Snowmelt from the Andes Mountains combines with rain from cloud forests to see 200 billion metric tons of water thunder down the valleys of the Basin each year, flooding an area the size of the United Kingdom.

Encompassing the world’s biggest rainforest and mightiest river – the largest freshwater reservoir on the planet – the Amazon houses more than 1500 bird species, 1000 frog species and 30,000 insect species per square kilometre. For the past decade, one new species has been discovered every three days, including nine new primate species.

As for all life on earth, adaptation is the key to success. Over millions of years, the plants and animals of the Amazon have made the necessary adaptations to enable them to survive the extreme conditions of this challenging environment. Plants and animals armed with spikes and laced with poisons play out a daily drama of life and death in a forest survival battlefield. From the ground to the canopy, towering some 50 metres above, and all along the river and its banks, every niche is occupied in a complex web of interdependent relationships, beautifully illustrated in this two-part documentary.

The cinematographers have captured many exquisite examples of these relationships and of individual behaviours. Amongst the unlikely alliances are the giant water lily and its tiny scarab beetle, the Cecropia tree and its Azteca ant, and the burrowing tarantula spider with its dotted humming frog.  The captivating behaviour of Amazonian manatees, bright coloured macaws, powerful jaguars, playful otters and a wide range of monkeys delight and inspire students of all ages.

Equally captivating, the Kayapo Indians, a once powerful nation now reduced to a few thousand, typify the human inhabitants of the Amazon Basin. They believe the forest’s plants and animals share a universal energy that must be kept in balance. Respect for all the rainforest’s inhabitants, and gratitude for its gifts, are paramount, as shown when they sing to the spirit of a hunted animal.

In sharp contrast to this delicate balance of life, the ravaging effects of forest clearing for crops, logging for lumber and the insidious implications of climate change illustrate the urgent necessity for a paradigm shift.


CURRICULUM POINTERS

Upper Primary Curriculum
Science is a dynamic, collaborative and creative human endeavour arising from our curiosity and interest in making sense of our world through exploring the unknown, investigating universal mysteries, making predictions and solving problems.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

The geographical concepts include process, system, sustainability, space, distance, proximity, interdependence, perception and risk.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011 Page 25/77


Junior Secondary Curriculum
The science curriculum provides opportunities for students to experience the joy of scientific discovery and to nurture students’ natural curiosity about the world around them. These ideas resonate with the concept of scientific literacy, a term that is well established in the science education literature.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Rationale

The environmental sub-strand will progressively develop students’ understanding of the functions of the environment that support human life and economic activity. … The third is the provision of the environmental services that support life without requiring human action, such as climatic stability, biodiversity, ecosystem integrity, protection from ultraviolet radiation, and the recreational, psychological, aesthetic and spiritual values of environments (the earth’s ‘service’ function).
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011: Page 26/79


Senior Secondary Curriculum
Structural, functional and behavioural adaptations that enhance an organism’s survival, including: environmental factors and challenges that affect the way organisms meet their requirements for life, including obtaining nutrients, water and gases; disposal of wastes; shelter; and protection
Australian Science (Biology) Curriculum 2010: Page 4

The senior years should also have an applied focus on trends, planning, management and futures, as is appropriate for students nearing the end of their school years and approaching adulthood, particularly those not intending to undertake university study.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011:  Page 29/93


CURRICULUM OUTCOMES

Upper Primary

In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will:
•     Develop an interest in science and a curiosity and willingness to explore, ask questions and speculate about the changing world
•    Communicate scientific understandings and findings
•    Develop an understanding of contemporary science issues
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims

In undertaking these tasks, students of Geography will:
•    Develop a sense of wonder, curiosity, knowledge and interest about the variety of environments, peoples, cultures and places that exist throughout the world
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011 Page 17/54


Junior Secondary

In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will:
•     Ask questions and speculate about the changing world
•    Develop an understanding of historical and cultural aspects of science as well as contemporary science issues
•    Communicate scientific understandings and findings
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims

In undertaking these tasks, students of Geography will:
•     Develop an ability to ask geographical questions, and reach conclusions based on evidence and logical reasoning, and communicate their findings in effective ways
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011 Page 17/54

Senior Secondary

In undertaking these tasks, students of Science will:
•    Develop an ability to communicate scientific understandings and findings to a range of audiences, justify their own ideas on the basis of evidence, and to evaluate and debate scientific arguments and claims whilst respecting alternative viewpoints and beliefs
•    Select and integrate science understanding in order to explain and predict phenomena, apply that understanding to new situations and events, and appreciate the dynamic nature of science knowledge.
Australian Science K-10 Curriculum 2010: Aims

In undertaking these tasks, students of Geography will:
•    Enable students to explore and gain a good understanding of geographical thinking including its perspectives, concepts and ways of explaining
•    Enable students to extend their knowledge; make sense of new situations, and to solve problems.
Shape of the Australian Geography Curriculum 2011 page 17/54


STUDENT LEARNING TASKS

Upper Primary

Task 1
Download a map of South America from
http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps/atlas/south-america-geophysical.html
Save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook.
On your map:
•    Highlight the course of the Amazon River.
•    Underline the names of the three countries the Amazon flows through.
•    Now underline three towns that are right on the banks of the Amazon River.

Task 2
Choose an animal that lives in the Amazon and draw a picture of it. Write down the following information about it:
•    Name
•    Type of animal– insect, reptile, bird, amphibian, mammal
•    Habitat
•    Diet

Task 3
Describe the special physical characteristics your animal has that help it survive in the forest.

Task 4
Describe three threats your animal faces, and explain how each of them can be overcome.


Junior Secondary

Task 1
Download a map of the world from
http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/maps/print-collection/world-map-classic.html
Save the map to your files, or print it and paste it into your workbook.
Now answer the following questions:
•    In which country does the Amazon River start?
•    Which ocean does it flow into?
•    Between which parallels of latitude does the Amazon flow?
•    Name the three countries the Amazon crosses from its source to the ocean.
•    Name five towns along the river, including at least one from each of the different countries.

Task 2
The following pairs of animals or plant and animal have formed a unique relationship in order to survive in the Amazon environment:
•    giant water lily and scarab beetle
•    cecropia tree and its Azteca ant
•    burrowing tarantula spider with its dotted humming frog
Choose one of these pairs and explain how the relationship works. Who contributes what and how does each partner benefit from the relationship?

Task 3
You are a member of the Kayapo tribe, about to go on a hunting trip. Describe what animal you are going to hunt, what weapon/s you will use, how you will use them, what precautions you must take, and what you will do for the forest in return, should you be successful.

Task 4
Write a 150-word letter to Ms Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil (and Brazil’s first female president!), expressing your concern for the future of the Amazon Basin and why it should be saved from illegal logging and clear-felling. In your letter, mention at least three reasons that explain why the preservation of the Amazon is important to the whole world.


Senior Secondary

Task 1
From the Amazon documentary, choose one of each of the following: plant, insect or spider, reptile, bird, mammal. For each of these,
•    Describe the physical characteristics, habitat, diet and threats
•    Explain what adaptations have help it survive in the Amazon environment.
•    Draw a food chain to show how it is connected to other plants/animals in its niche.

Task 2
In 200 words, compare and contrast the attitude of the Kayapo Indians to the Amazon forests with that of the western world. In your comparison, explain what the forests mean to the two different parties, and comment on the impacts and sustainability of the different attitudes.

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