Hot and Humid, That's Manu

Objectives of the Lesson
Background Information
Materials Needed
Evaluation/Alternative Assessment
Web Resources

Objectives of the Lesson:

Students will:

  1. Experience the heat and humidity of Manu in a classroom.
  2. Construct a tent and use a humidifier to recreate the Manu environment.
  3. Write a reflection paper of what it is like to live in the Manu environment.
  4. Measure the humidity in the classroom created rainforest environment. (Optional)

Background Information:

The rainforest is a very hot and humid place to travel or live. The humidity is very difficult to become accustomed too. Travelers from cooler climates have difficulty in walking through the jungle with the constant heat, humidity and rain. Humidity can be measured with a sling psychrometer. This is a wet bulb, dry bulb thermometer. Psychrometers can be constructed or purchased. In that they are very inexpensive, it is easier for the classroom teacher to purchase a class set for student use. (Personal experience, Travel to the Peruvian Rainforest, three visits by Dwight Sieggreen, Science Teacher, Northville Public Schools) The hot humid air "hits" the moment you exit the airplane onto the tarmac. The air feels heavy with moisture and odors. (Kim Sneden, Director of Education, Detroit Zoological Society, Traveler to the Peruvian Rainforest,1994.)

Materials Needed:

  • A copy of the PBS program, The Living Edens: "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest" (Air date November 12, 1997 on PBS. If you miss this program, you can order the video.)
  • Downloaded diagram of apparatus setup: setup
  • Humidifier, hot or cold available from most department stores
  • Table, large enough for 4-5 children to sit under during the activity
  • Clear plastic covering , enough to cover the table you choose to the floor
  • Scissors
  • Optional Sling psychrometer (Can be purchased at most science supply stores for about $6)
  • Books to hold plastic covering secure
  • Water for Humidifier and electrical outlet.
    Caution: Always be careful with electricity and water!
  • Paper/pencil for reflective paper
  • Student science journals


  1. View The Living Edens: "Manu, Peru's Hidden Rain Forest" program in class. Discuss the jungle environment, focus specifically the heat and humidity. Prior to the showing of the film, discuss humidity in Manu. Ask students to look for instances that might show the forest is very humid. (Example: lush plant life)
  2. Place clear plastic covering over table to the floor.
  3. Cut a 36 inch slice in the plastic covering on each side of the table for entry and exit.
    Caution: This is also necessary for ventilation.
  4. Cut a small hole for the humidifier vent and place it on a chair so that the humidifier is elevated from the classroom floor. This will allow humid air to be pumped in and create a humid environment.
    Caution: Be sure that humidifier is kept clean and dry before and after use to prevent bacteria from growing. Also some additional vent slices should be cut in plastic for additional ventilation. Download a diagram of this setup here: setup
  5. Have students enter the tent, spend about 1-2 minutes in the tent and experience the high humidity under the table. (Optional) Have students use a sling psychrometer to measure the humidity inside the tent. Have students exit the tent and the next group will then enter.
  6. Measure the humidity after the humidifier has been running for about 15 minutes or so using the sling psychrometer. (Optional) Collect this data and record in student science journals
  7. Have students calculate the humidity from the data collected on the sling psychrometer and record in student science journals. (See instructions as to how to do this which come with the sling psychrometer.) (Optional)
  8. Have students write a reflective paper which describes their experience in the high humidity environment. Address issues of what it is like to breathe, what happened to clothing, what did it feel like to exit the environment.

Evaluation/Alternative Assessment:

Discuss the experience with students and get their responses. After discussion, provide materials for a reflective paper on the experience. You may wish to have some students read the paper to the class.

Optional activity: Have students calculate the humidity using a sling psychrometer in teams of 4-5; the same groups that experience the humidity as a team. As each group takes a reading on the sling psychrometer, record the data and calculate the humidity. After all groups have gone through the tent and calculated humidity, compare data collected.

Elementary Extension:

All of the above activity can be done with elementary level students. The reflective paper will be the major difference between the elementary level and middle level. Calculating the humidity using data from the sling psychrometer and the information sheet for use is difficult for elementary students.

Secondary Extension:

The secondary extension will be visit a rainforest exhibit at a local science museum, aquarium or zoo. The teacher can try to arrange a meeting with experts in rainforest science to speak to the group. Students can try to recreate the same humidity level as found in Manu after research on this data. Additionally, students might try to vary the use of the humidifier to change the level of humidity and record and analyze the data.

Web Resources:

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Producer's Journal | The People of Manu | Flora and Fauna | History | Conservation
Classroom Resources | Trivia Challenge | Related Links | Screen Saver | About the Film | Manu Credits
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