Serengeti selfies highlight research to local classroom

WFU researcher uses Skype to connect children to Africa

WFU researcher uses Skype to connect children to Africa

Wake Forest University biologist Michael Anderson, who studies the ecology and conservation of African grassland and savannas ecosystems, will be bringing his work to life via Skype for fifth graders at Meadowlark Elementary School on May 12 and 13.

Anderson will visit Meadowlark Elementary from 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., visiting the fifth grade class of Suzanne Sarfert. He will begin with a presentation that will include showing students how Snapshot Serengeti works.

Around 10 a.m., Anderson will make contact via Skype with a fellow researcher based in Africa who will interact with the children and show them animal skulls and other props. They will guess whether animals are herbivore or carnivore based on the skulls and teeth and have the opportunity to ask questions about what it’s like doing research in the Serengeti.

Snapshot Serengeti is a research project that allows researchers to observe wildlife in remote locations and to monitor species as they move across vast areas. This is done with a grid of 225 camera traps in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, that takes animal “selfies” to see how species interact with lions and one another. The project generates more than a million images every year and citizen scientists numbering over 150,000 are involved to help classify the animals.

This is the second year Anderson has done the project with Sarfert’s class. “His presentation gives students authentic reasoning as to why they study ecosystems,” she said. “Michael’s visit is also an excellent review opportunity for the 5th grade end-of-year science test. Students are engaged and in awe of the opportunity to interact with Michael and his counterpart in Tanzania.”

An added bonus to the presentation is that Sarfert has a student who is from Tanzania and he is able to communicate in Swahili with the Africa-based researcher via Skype.

Categories: Faculty, Pro Humanitate, Research, Sustainability