Teachers Embark on Brazilian Adventure, May 7, 2001

SOCORRO, N.M., May 7, 2001 -- Brazil . . . land of beautiful beaches, lush rain forests, exotic animals, and New Mexican teachers. New Mexican teachers? Twelve New Mexican teachers, in fact.

These twelve teachers, who hail from all over New Mexico, will be traveling to Brazil this summer as part of a Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program grant awarded to the Master of Science Teaching Program at New Mexico Tech. While there, they will earn them academic credit for two classes focussing on Air Quality and Sensitive Ecosystems. There will also be ample opportunity to explore the rich culture and natural beauty of Brazil throughout the trip.

The group begins their expedition in São Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in South America. In São Paulo, they will have the opportunity to explore the Brazilian education system through visits to public schools and the Universidad de São Paulo. They will also begin a series of experiments for the class "Introduction to Air Pollution and Air Quality Management." This course will provide an understanding of concepts of air pollution and air quality management, through a combination of lectures and experiments.

While traveling in Brazil, the participants will be testing the air quality in different regions of the country using personal monitors. This offers the chance to compare locations and management systems between the cities they visit (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campo Grande, Manaus, and Recife) and wilderness areas in Northern Brazil.

As the expedition progresses northward, the crew will explore the culture, religions, foods, and history of Brazil. They also start to concentrate on their other academic goal--"An Introduction to Natural Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts." This class is also presented through a combination of lecture and field experiences. Field experiences include exploration of the Amazon by boat, treks through the Patanal Wilderness area, and exposure to Brazilian research centers that focus on fragile ecosystems. Lectures will reflect the environments they visit, what an ecosystem is, how it evolves, how it works, how it adapts to change. These topics will integrate discussion of local and global air quality, utilizing personal experience, background readings, and participants' own air quality experiments in Brazil.

Part of each teacher's assignment in this undertaking is to bring their newfound knowledge of Brazil, air quality issues, and ecological concepts back to their New Mexican classrooms.

Although they are studying these concepts in Brazil, these are not uniquely Brazilian concepts. The lessons these teachers learn in Brazil will provide ample experiential information to compare with their New Mexican surroundings. Each teacher will prepare lesson plans to that effect as part of the program.

The teachers selected for this program through competitive application in March are Cynde Aaron, AIM High School, Socorro; Steve Blake, Silver High School, Silver City; Linda Jane Chavez, SER SFPS Career Academy, Santa Fe; Cynthia Connolly, Socorro; Lee Eversole, Crownpoint Institute of Technology, Bluewater; Elizabeth Fritsche, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque; Douglas Fuqua, Tularosa High School, Alto; Marilyn Gardner, SET SFPS Career Academy, Santa Fe; Julianne Green, St. Pius X High School, Albuquerque; Katharine Hoff, Rio Rancho High School, Albuquerque; Zachary Leonard, Espanola Valley High School, Espanola; and Donna Michelle Perry, Carlsbad High School Phoenix Program, Carlsbad.

They will be leaving for Brazil June 9 to join the program leaders, Vannetta R. Perry and Clinton Richardson, both of New Mexico Tech. Their five-week stay ends July 13. For more information about the program and expedition plans, visit the MST website at www.nmt.edu/~science/mst and look under International Experiences.