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Destination: Galapagos Islands Cyber Field Trip

Bienvenidos a Galapagos!:
An Integrated Unit on the Galapagos Islands

Developed by Molly Thomas, reading teacher at Timberstone Junior High School, Sylvania, Ohio.

Grade Level: Middle school
Content Areas:

Language arts, social studies, computers, science

Parent's Letter (below)
World map
Computer with Internet access
Log or notebook
Vocabulary Sheet (below)
Field Guide (below)
Quiz (below)

  1. Distribute Parent's Letter to students to take home about a week or two before beginning the unit.

  2. Have students locate the Galapagos Islands on a world map. Discuss the significance of its location to its history and environment.

  3. Challenge students to complete the Vocabulary Sheet, Field Guide and Quiz, using this website, other websites or print resources. Students should gather their information in a log.

  4. When their research is complete, students should write a two-page report on their findings, making sure to cite all sources they used.


  1. Obtain a blank U.S. passport application and distribute copies to students. Have them complete the application as if they were planning a real trip to the Galapagos Islands.

  2. Encourage students to create a "photo album" of their journey to the Galapagos Islands. They can use photos they've printed out from their computers or clipped out of newspapers or magazines.

Parent's Letter

Dear Parents,

Scientific American Frontiers and I invite you to come along on an expedition to the Galapagos Islands! Join host Alan Alda, the Frontiers crew, scientists and your School Program ambassadors Sherri Steward and Mandy Williams for this exciting voyage.

The cyber field trip took place live on December 6-12, 1998, on the following website: You and your child can experience the trip -- which is archived on the website -- as if it is happening in real time. Prepare for the trip by exploring the website, where you'll find background information, lots of resources for additional information and a Q&A that was conducted on the trip with members of the expedition team.

Your child and other members of his/her class will be visiting the Galapagos website daily next week using computers at school. Each day will bring a new adventure! In addition to the student lab activities suggested on the website, students will participate in creative learning activities designed to suit their instructional needs in reading, writing and research. Students will complete these various activities and gather information for a report on what they learned during their cyber visit to the islands.

If you have access to the Internet at home, I encourage you to take this journey with your child and learn together! I hope that you will look forward to this cyber trip to the Galapagos Islands as I do. I also hope to learn right along with my students about a most unique place on planet Earth. Bon Voyage!


Vocabulary Sheet

DIRECTIONS: Visit the Destination: Galapagos Islands website, where you will find the definitions for the words listed below. Write a definition for each word.

  • Adaptation
  • Archipelago
  • Caldera
  • Climate
  • Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Ecosystem
  • El Nino
  • Endemic
  • Environment
  • Equator
  • Evolution
  • Extinct
  • Fauna
  • Flora
  • Genus
  • Habitat
  • Harvesting
  • Humboldt Current
  • Immutable
  • Introduced species
  • Natural selection
  • Pliocene era
  • Poaching
  • Population
  • Predator
  • Shield volcano
  • Species
  • Taxonomy
Field Guide

DIRECTIONS: Wildlife on the Galapagos Islands is varied. Visit the Destination: Galapagos Islands website, where you can learn more about the marine life, land-dwellers and birds that inhabit many of the islands. Choose one form of wildlife and use the website and other resources to complete the following field guide. Be sure to include a picture of your chosen animal. You might want to complete several field guides for your own information. When you finish, exchange your field guide with your classmates to learn about the wildlife they studied.

Common name:

Scientific name:

Physical characteristics:


Diet and feeding habits:

Social organization:

Conservation status:

Other useful information:

Sources of information:


DIRECTIONS: Write the correct answer to each of the questions below.
  1. What was the form of wildlife, now extinct, on the island of Pinta?

  2. Four species of ______________ are found on the island of Marchena.

  3. The pallidus subspecies of land iguana can be found in only one place on Earth -- the island of:

  4. During World War II, what island was home to a U.S. Air Force base?

  5. How many specimens of the tortoise called phantastica have ever been collected from the island of Fernandina?

  6. On what island do the giant tortoises with saddle-shaped shells live?

  7. What was once so special about the island of Santiago?

  8. The Charles Darwin Research Station was established on the island of Santa Cruz in:

  9. What is the name of the small, dark subspecies of marine iguana that inhabits the northeastern fringe of Tower Island?

  10. What island is the seat of government in the Galapagos Islands?

  11. Why was cotton not a good crop to grow on the island of Isabela?

  12. What island once had a "post office" used by whaling ships in the 19th century?


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
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