Tropical Rainforest Interactive Presentations/GASC Technology Center
Images of Students or their Work (typical).
Many of the plants used in the rainforest
were salvaged from the Horticulture program,
which had been canceled.
link to another image
Constructing the rainforest
Students first gutted the greenhouse and then worked with ESA teachers and assistants to frame the space with wood. The frame was then covered with chicken wire to define the rainforest walls. A total of 4,325 square feet of chicken wire was used. Pieces of muslin cloth dipped in wheat paste were placed over the chicken wire. Three classes worked five days to completely cover the chicken wire with 4,192 square feet of cloth. To complete the walls and to build a pond and waterfall instructors sprayed the walls with Denotec insulating foam. When the insulation had set, students began painting the walls. The next step was to drape the ceiling with grape vines, sheet moss, and Spanish moss. Finally, students covered the floor with soil and potted plants (salvaged from the Horticulture program). In the fall of 2000, returning seniors improved the rainforest by bringing in new plants, logs, and soil. With a CD-player and speakers installed at each end of the space it was possible to play rainforest sound effects, adding to the realism. The cost of constructing the rainforest was $8,000, which came from the ESA budget and money left over from a fundraising effort of the old Floriculture program.

Three classes in the Environmental Studies Academy worked 15 days to complete the rainforest. This ambitious schedule was set so that the project would be complete for the GASC Technology Center's open house, an event that draws four to five thousand visitors. All fifty ESA students, teachers from the Technology Center, and community volunteers worked together to complete construction on time. Fast progress was made early on, but hanging the muslin was a slow and tedious process that took days to complete. Students began to feel discouraged during this phase of the work, but they persevered as a team. The night before open house, students and teachers put on the last coats of paint and arranged plants just in time to open the rainforest to visitors the next day.

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Project Based Learning