Within each of us, there is a researcher, an explorer, a scientist. Wendy Welshans has been empowering her students with this truth for over 20 years as Director of Forman School’s Rainforest Project, and on Friday, May 6, 2016, you can witness firsthand how high school students can make a difference across our planet.
Organizations like The New York Times, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Connecticut Audubon Society, and The Register Citizen have shone a light on the important work that Forman’s young minds continue to achieve over the years. Forman students (along with peers from Litchfield and Wamogo Regional High Schools) have discovered new species, provided bird bioacoustics for Cornell University’s Macaulay Library, collected spider silk for pharmaceutical companies and sustainability programs, and assisted doctoral candidates in studying the chytrid fungus that is wiping out reptile and amphibian populations worldwide. These bright young learners contribute vital information pertaining to the global ecosystem each year.
“Students will present entertaining analyses of the scientific data they collected in the Costa Rican rainforest,” Welshans says. “They will educate the public before we send the data to various museums and universities around the country.” This year, many breakthrough discoveries were made. The team found a frog that has not been spotted in that location during the School’s 24 years of research, a snake that has only been seen dead in museums, and several Appendix I internationally endangered species.
The Rainforest Project is an educational experience, but it’s more than that. “It changes students’ lives,” Welshans explains. “A student came up to me this year and said, ‘I want to do it because I heard that once you spend a year on the Rainforest Project, your life is changed. You come back a different person.’” Not only are these students making a difference in the scientific community; they are making a difference in themselves. Their confidence is built as they embrace their place as researchers who are making an impact on the world.
Dissertation Day Schedule:
May 6, 2016
8:40-8:55am: Rainforest video
9:00-9:30am: Spider Silk Presentation
9:30-10:35am: Break - Video and Sponsor Commercials
10:35-11:05am: Mammal Tracking and Trapping Presentation
11:10-11:40am: Neotropical and Migrant Bird Banding Presentation
12:35-1:10pm: Reptiles and Amphibians Presentation
- 1:15-1:45pm: Bioacoustics Presentation