Lights-camera-action! As we get our high school junior scientists situated around the table, making some minor adjustments in order to have them all fit on the screen, we think that our Portland Oregon friends are doing the same. When we initiated our video conference call though, we were surprised to see that they were able to fit in a large number of people. In fact, there were about 50 kids sitting in an auditorium waving to us saying, “Hello!” with an occasional, “Oi!”
We had decided to start off our conference by giving a performance that would show off a little about each of our cultures. An Iracambi Junior Scientist picked up his guitar and played a couple popular Brazilian songs with a little vocal help from the other Junior Scientists, and the Portland kids retaliated with a dance to the world pop hit song, Gangnam Style.
With the ice broken between us, it was time to get to business. The Iracambi Junior Scientists showed pictures taken in the surrounding Atlantic Rainforest regions that are well known to them, and told the Portland kids about life in the rainforest. They also talked about the projects they’ve been working in, such as the water monitoring and working in the forest nursery. After our presentation, it was the Portlanders’ turn to present their project. They had taken a trip to New Port to learn about the ocean. The kids came up one by one and talked about many interesting things such as the role of water in terms of erosion and the water cycle that they learned during their trip. By the end of both presentations, kids on both sides of the screens had learned quite a lot about a new ecosystem. With many goodbyes our video conference came to an end, but will stick with our kids for a long time to come.
The first group of Junior Scientists@ Iracambi kicked off the semester this week in fine style. This was the first time that we have had students from the Rosário da LImeira high school, and we are delighted to report that they are bright, motivated and dead keen to learn about their forest environment.
They started by doing a quick tour of the facilities at the Iracambi Research Center and then they were off into the forest to take a closer look at the animals and plants and be introduced to some keystone species whose presence shows that the forest is in good health. They learned about the equipment they will be using to test the soils and water quality and record the weather, as well as looking at simple and effective ways of collecting and recording data. After that they paid a visit to the forest nursery to learn about which species of trees are native and which exotic, and how to care for the native species seedlings that they will continue to plant in the forest reserve.
We also discussed the fact that this is a specially important year for us to be studying water since 2013 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Water Cooperation. Brazil is one of the most water rich nations in the world, and Iracambi is situated in the Atlantic forest region which supplies water to many of Brazil’s major cities. It is therefore vital that young Brazilians learn about proper management of forest and water resources, and Iracambi’s Junior Scientists are keen to do their part!
The Iracambi GIS project is underway - but we've hit a few potholes along the road, and have decided to put the project on the back burner for now.
Here's why. To run the project effectively we need to update and replace our software. We’re aiming to get ArcGIS and IDRISI Selva, but due to cost issues, it's just not possible at the moment. We’ve been in contact with Clark Labs, the producers of IDRISI, but our next few projects may have to rely on Arc instead. This is not a major problem and we’re sure we can utilize the programs we already have!
In the meantime our data gathering is going well. We’re very appreciative of the wide variety of imagery available through USGS Global Visualization Viewer, offering a long history to choose from for our time analysis and impact project. Imagery dates all the way back to September of 1972, and we hope to have as full a set of aerial imagery as possible by the end of March.
We are going to put this project on hold for a little while, as the software issues have made it challenging to continue. However, GIS remains an important part of Iracambi’s future, for researchers, our community, and helping us see where we’re at in the region. Thank you for your interest and support and we'll be back soon!