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Rx Rainforest:
The Primate Prescription

Dory Marcus
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
6-8
Time Alloment
 Six to eight 45-minute class periods (90-minute extra-curricular activity)

Overview

The continued and alarming deforestation of the rainforest will also destroy one of the world's natural pharmacies. Indigenous tribes have been watching and learning from the animal inhabitants of the rainforest for generations. Their knowledge of jungle medicine and the resources of the rainforest is extensive, but is threatened by a vanishing habitat and the cessation of tribal life.

Using the video, NATURE: Wisdom of the Wild, and Internet resources, students will learn about the pharmacological potential of the rainforest and the role that both man and chimpanzee play in discovering new cures. In addition students will utilize video to present their knowledge and explore the role various stakeholders have in the medicinal value of the rainforest.

Major corporate support is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Ford.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Identify the potential of plant diversity in the rainforest
  • Identify the role that animals and habitats play in scientific research
  • Differentiate between natural habitat and laboratory research
  • Work collaboratively to produce a video news report
  • Utilize video, Internet and print resources to research information

Standards

National Science Education Standards
http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html/6d.html

CONTENT STANDARD A: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and understandings about scientific inquiry.

CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of structure and function in living systems, reproduction and heredity, regulation and behavior, populations and ecosystems, and diversity and adaptations of organisms.

CONTENT STANDARD F: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of personal health, populations, resources, and environments, natural hazards, risks and benefits, and science and technology in society.

CONTENT STANDARD G: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of science as a human endeavor, the nature of science, and the history of science.

New York State Learning Standards
http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/html/6d.html

CONTENT STANDARD C: As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of
  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Reproduction and heredity
  • Regulation and behavior
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms
CONTENT STANDARD E: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop
  • Abilities of technological design
  • Understandings about science and technology
CONTENT STANDARD F: As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of
  • Personal health
  • Populations, resources, and environments
  • Natural hazards
  • Risks and benefits
  • Science and technology in society
Media Components

Video:

Nature #1705: Wisdom of the Wild

Students will view two segments of this episode. The first shows a modern day researcher exploring the rainforest with an indigenous medicine man, learning from chimpanzees about medical cures. The second clip chronicles the efforts of an activist to provide a refuge for chimpanzees used in laboratory research.

Web sites:

ABCnews.com: Lee Dye: Jungle Medicine
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/science/DyeHard/dye990210.html
A Cornell environmental scientist researches the herbal medicines used by indigenous peoples in Venezuela, and how they discovered the cures. This online news report details some of the plants and herbs found in the rainforest and the ailments they cure.

Time.com: Jungle Medicine
http://www.time.com/time/globalbusiness/article/0,9171,1101021125-391533,00.html
Tribal shaman, who lead corporate and academic researchers to therapeutic flora and fauna, rarely see a penny of the pharmaceutical industry's profits. The article explores the marketing of cures found in the rainforest.

Boston Globe Online: Health Sense: Drug Hunters Can't See Rainforest for the Medicines
http://www.boston.com/globe/columns/foreman/archive/032701.htm
Drug researchers are developing some promising medicines from plants, insects, marine organisms, soil bacteria and other natural products, but slowly. Bioprospecting and folk remedies are compared in this online special report.

Really Wild Remedies
http://www.fonz.org/zoogoer/zg1998/27(1)remedy.htm
A report from the Friends of the National Zoo details the research of primatologist, Dr. Michael Huffman. Dr. Huffman is the researcher shown in the first "Wisdom of the Wild" clip.

Materials

Per class or team (4-5 students/group):

  • Digital Video camera
  • Video editing software (i.e. iMovie, Apple)
  • Optional: tripod, wireless microphone(s)
Per team: Per student:
  • Jungle Medicine Organizer
  • Wisdom of the Wild Organizer