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Destination: Galapagos Islands Cyber Field Trip

Community Forum:
Understanding Conservation Law

Developed by Beth Schultz, preservice teacher at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin.

Grade Level: Middle school
Basic Concepts:
Activism, conservation, interdependence
Content Areas: Social studies, science
11/2 hours

Students will understand how conservation laws affect the interests of different involved parties.

Article -- "Ecuador Passes New Law to Protect Galapagos Islands"
Video -- "Galapagos Beyond Darwin" (Clark, D., and Giddings, A., producers and directors. 1996. Discovery Channel Video.)
Television & VCR
Journal or notebook
Paper and pencil

  1. Provide students with a copy of the article and instruct them to read it.

  2. Ask students what their initial impressions are of the Galapagos Conservation Law.

  3. Watch the segment "Introduced Species" from the video (approx. 10 min.).

  4. Have students record their thoughts on the video in their journals.

  5. Divide the class into the following groups:

    • residents of the Galapagos Islands
    • tourists
    • tour guide operators
    • scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Center
    • Ecuadorian government officials
    • aquatic scientists
    • land scientists
    • representatives from the World Wildlife Fund
    • owners and employees of fisheries
    • evolutionists

  6. Challenge students to create a brief statement (approx. 2-3 minutes) representing their interests to present at a forum on the Conservation Law. Students should consider such questions as: How does the Conservation Law affect me? What implications does it have for me? Will the law benefit or harm me? What statement would I like to make to the community with regard to this law?

  7. After all views have been presented, students may debate their positions.


  1. Encourage students to attend a real community forum. How is it similar to or different from the classroom forum?

  2. Students can research other laws that were established to protect the Galapagos Islands. What did the laws do? Did they work? Why or why not?

Guided Reflection

Students may complete the following self-assessment at the end of the mock community forum.

In your opinion, which group presented the most valid arguments? Which group presented the weakest?

Look back at your journal entry from the beginning of the activity. Have any of your opinions changed? How so? If your opinions stayed the same, why do you think that was the case?

If you could add one item to the Galapagos Conservation Law, what would it be? Why would you choose this? Support your answer.


*Charles Darwin Research Station (2-20-98).
Information about islands, issues affecting the Galapagos, what it's like to work at the Station, scientific reports and conservation. Many (but not all) of the pages within the site are youth-friendly.

*Environmental News Network. (7-18-97)
Study documents new threats to Galapagos Islands. ENN Daily News. Available online.

*International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (1-10-98) The Galapagos Islands: A World Heritage Site
Includes pictures, links, specific information about the islands, issues, references, climate, and National Park Rules.

*International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (1-10-98) Issues Facing the Galapagos
Specific information about the issues facing the Galapagos Islands. Includes several pictures.

*Lemonick, M. Can the Galapagos Islands Survive? (October 30, 1995), Time Magazine
A wonderful article about the issues facing the Galapagos Islands. Pictures support the text.

*World Wildlife Fund (2-16-98) The Galapagos Islands
A collection of brief facts sheets compiled by the WWF. Specifically concentrate on biological diversity, people, threats, responses and challenges.

*World Wildlife Fund (2-16-98) The Galapagos: Pressures on Paradise
Extensive page dedicated to the Galapagos. Includes pictures, a slide show, fact sheets, specific articles, and a timeline. Concentrates mainly on the preservation and conservation of the islands.

*World Wildlife Fund (3-31-98) Victory in the Galapagos Islands
Most recent information about the newly passed Galapagos Conservation Law.

(* designates "youth-friendly")


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
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