Luquillo Schoolyard Program (2019)


For school age children on the island of Puerto Rico, the 2017 back-to-back hurricane strikes of Irma and Maria were their first experiences with the tragedy of hurricanes in Puerto Rico. There has been much concern in the media and associated reader comments about the ability of the El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico to recover. These concerns reveal common misconceptions about the dynamics of forest ecosystems. Long-term research conducted by Luquillo ecologists paints a different picture. The rainforest is adapted to being struck by hurricanes on a regular basis. This video describes students’ experiences in the Luquillo Schoolyard Long-Term Ecological Research program after the hurricanes. Middle and high school students have been able to conduct first-hand investigations of the reaction of the rainforest to hurricane disturbance. They completed a damage assessment of a student study plot using the same protocols that Luquillo scientists used to assess the overall damage of the rainforest. Students have also developed their own oral histories of their experience with and resilience after Hurricane Maria. Other Schoolyard LTER experiences include Journey to El Yunque and Data Jam. With Journey to El Yunque, students model past hurricane disturbance and resilience. With Data Jam, students investigate the hurricanes in the context of past storm events. These experiences culminate with the annual Schoolyard Symposium in which students share the results of their research with fellow students and with scientists in the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program. Engaging students in investigations of El Yunque resilience at different timescales and different perspectives will allow students to connect their learning about the rainforest to the current tragedy of their everyday life. 

NSF Award: 1821146