In just a few months, Kalinda Primary School teacher, Karen Johns, will be joining Earthwatch research project Wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal through the proud support of Victoria Electricity. Karen is the first teacher to be sponsored by Victoria Electricity on this new and exciting interactive educational program.
Karen, 53, has been teaching for over 20 years and has already begun pre-field research with her students on the giant river otters that inhabit the Pantanal region.
"We've already learnt that otters can grow to 1.8 metres and my students are already warning me of the more threatening species of crocodiles and anacondas that 'like the taste of teachers'," Karen relays comically.
Victoria Electricity's Eco-Gold TeachLive program is a unique educational experience which offers a fantastic opportunity for Australian teachers to develop scientific research techniques and reinforce their skills in the classroom, all while learning about the challenges facing our environment and communicating their experience back to the classroom via an interactive website.
By supporting TeachLive, Victoria Electricity aims to assist students in discovering areas of research and knowledge they have never before explored, which Karen explains as her main reason for choosing the Wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal project.
"The Pantanal looks like an amazing region to work in. The fact that my students might never have the opportunity to visit this region means that TeachLive allows them to "visit" in a way that hopefully will make them so much more aware of just how amazing and diverse our world really is," Karen says.
Karen explains she will report back to her students every night via the interactive website and hopes to teach them the similarities between how international and local ecosystems develop and function and what is required to help them survive.
"My main focus will be on the roles that different elements play in sustaining an environment and that my students also have a role to play in their immediate and wider environments. I would also like to think that as my students' awareness of this region grows, we can bring that back to a local awareness of the environment," she says.
Karen will be joining Earthwatch's Wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal project from 4 - 16 June, 2009 to study otters, amphibians and reptiles.
Want to learn more about Karen's project? Then visit Earthwatch's Wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal research expedition page.