The Study Commission on the Rain Forest


Toby Erickson


Dear Rain Forest Study Commission Member:

The rain forest is a beautiful place, teeming with life and an abundance of natural resources. The rain forest is also disappearing at an alarming rate. This is caused by those who wish to make use of the natural resources and vast land area which the rain forest holds. Farmers cut down forested areas to make room for cattle and crops. Miners dig in the rain forest to find diamonds and gold. Rivers are dammed to create reservoirs and hydroelectric power. What will happen to the world if the rain forest continues to disappear? What will happen if farmers, miners and other developers are required to stop harvesting the resources of the rain forest? Who should take charge and have the authority to answer these questions? What action should be taken?

We have commissioned your classroom with this task. You will work in small groups and as a class to explore and answer these questions. There will be much discussion and debate as you seek to find the answers. You'll find there is seldom an answer which can please everyone. We look forward to reading your conclusions as you share your findings at the end of this unit.


The United Nations








You will work in a small group and will carefully research the issues of the rain forest. Using the Rain Forest: Hyperstudio Stack, you will consider the opinions of the many people who have interests in the rain forest. These people have written letters to you, The Study Commission on the Rain Forest. Consider these questions as you read the letters of these people:

Discuss these questions as a class. Allow brief discussion to clarify the issues surrounding each letter. Put a piece of chart paper up in the room with the title: Rain Forest Issues

Work as a class to create a title for the issue each letter addresses (i.e. mining in the rain forest.)

Write these titles on the chart paper for later reference. The issues titles may include:

Next, display two new sheets of chart paper with the titles: What we know....
What we need to know.....

Work as a class to define these issues and to decide what other information you may need.




Follow these steps carefully:

A. Your group should begin by dividing up the research tasks. To do this you need to get into smaller groups. To select subcommittees to research the needed information a lot system works well. All the students in your class should write their names on a slip of paper and put it in the "hat" which represents the issue they wish to study. For example: a Indian hat for students interested in researching indigenous peoples, a mining hat for students interested in that issue. Draw names from a hat. If there are names which are not drawn, allow these students to pick their next choice they would like to study. Continue until all names are drawn.

B. With the the subcommittees selected, take some time to meet with others in your group to discuss strategies for finding the needed information. You will be given time in class to research your issue using whatever references to which you have access and the Internet.

C. As you do your research, look for information which will help you answer the questions which pertain to your group's issue from the above list and the Need to Know chart in your classroom. Keep track of where you got your information, take good notes, and always be ready to share.

D. After you have gathered the information:

After some discussion and debate, have your class vote for one of the proposed solutions listed in the Rain Forest: Hyperstudio Stack. Read the newspaper articles to see the consequences of your decision. If there is time, consider the other proposed solutions listed in the Rain Forest: Hyperstudio Stack. The proposed solutions are the following:

Generally, the solutions fall into three categories:

1.Preserve all Rain Forests

This solutions cuts off all harvesting of rain forest products except for indigenous people (who take only what they need) and scientists (who take only what they need for research).

2.Create Rain Forest Reserves

This allows for some rain forest areas to be open to harvesting while protecting certain areas, particularly those areas with indigenous people.

3.Allow Nations to Decide for Themselves.

This option assumes each nation will do what is best for their own country. Each country can choose to create reserves or do whatever they feel would be in their own best interests.



There are many resources on the World Wide Web about the rain forest. Type "rain forest" into any search engine and you will have more material than you could ever use. Here are some sites to get you started:

White Jag

Your social studies textbook contains some very useful information for this activity in the very first chapter. There are also CD-ROM or traditional encyclopedias which will help you learn the facts about these ancient structures. Finally, there are also a number of very good books and educational videos on these structures.



You will find that the information from the different web sites will need additional research from other materials. You will also find it very important to work cooperatively with others in your group because one person cannot find all the necessary information in the time which your teacher has given you to do this work!

Make sure that you use your time wisely in and out of class! 



You will be graded on your participation in your group and class discussions, your group's presentation of findings to the class and finally a short essay. You will write an opinion paper about what you feel ought to be done in the rain forest. You should address all the issues identified by the class commission and write what you feel is a good solution. You may have pretty expensive or unrealistic solutions, but you will be graded on how well you address the issues you have discovered rather than your solution's feasibility. You will receive one point for discussing each of the following issues:



After you have finished this activity, do the following as time and teacher direction allows:

As an art activity, contribute to a collection of student generated art and writing in a class book entitled, My Favorite Rain Forest Critter

Create a multimedia presentation about the rain forest using Hyperstudio and the information you have found.



1. What did you learn during this activity that surprised you the most?

2. How well did your group work together? Why is group research important in an activity like this?

3. How did the SCORE sites on the Internet help you complete this activity? Would you use the Internet again to find information?

4. The next time you do an activity such as this, what might you do differently?

5. Did you find some web sites which were not on the SCORE page that you would like to recommend for future students? Submit your recommendation in an email message to SCORE.

Author: Toby Erickson
Wyandotte School, Oroville Elementary District 

Technical questions on the website to:
Last Revised: 4/4/06