Deep Jungle: New Frontiers

Download the Teacher Guide (pdf) for lesson plans on all Deep Jungle episodes.

Deep Jungle: New Frontiers


Rainforests are among the most challenging places for scientists to explore. Nevertheless, in search of answers, some intrepid scientists and researchers venture into the jungle with the latest technological devices.

Grade level: Grades 5 – 8

Subject areas: Science, Science and Technology

Learning objectives:
Students will be able to do the following:

  • Observe unusual plant and animal species that exist in the world’s rainforests.
  • Discuss how biologists use infrared cameras and other technology to explore jungles.

Program Highlights

  • Creating 3-D maps of the rainforests of Borneo involves a combination of daring athleticism and computer expertise. Biologist Roman Dial often works 150 feet above the ground for days at a time, using lasers to measure and map the forest. His maps show how the jungle’s complex ecosystems work.
  • Tigers were once plentiful throughout Sumatra. Today, only about 500 survive in the wild. Naturalist Jeremy Holden and cameraman Gavin Thurston attempt to be the first to catch one of these elusive animals on video, setting up motion-sensitive cameras that activate when an animal passes in front of an infrared beam.
  • In 1862, Charles Darwin studied a bizarre orchid found on Madagascar. Darwin predicted that its survival probably depended on a gigantic moth with a 12-inch tongue. In this program, biologist Phil DeVries uses an infrared camera to finally catch this strange insect in action.

Before Viewing the Program

Ask students to describe what a jungle is. Explain that jungles are also known as rainforests. Using a physical map of the world that identifies forests in green, ask students if they can find where the world’s jungles are located. Mention that there are many jungles around the world, and they all tend to have similar climates. Show five different photographs of animals found in the Amazon rainforest. (You can find these in library books or Web sites, such as: Ask students to discuss what kind of climate these creatures would need to survive. To help orient them for the first segment of the program, have students find the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Encourage students to pay special attention to the different technologies that help the scientists do research in the rainforest.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think there is so much variety of life in the world’s rainforests?
  • Infrared cameras use an unseen portion of the spectrum and often show differences in temperature. What are some advantages of using an infrared camera to explore a jungle?
  • What are the benefits of using a laser measurement device to map a rainforest?
  • Imagine that you wanted to create a 3-D map of a square mile of forest. What challenges do you think you’d face?
  • If you could tag along with one of the naturalist/explorers in this program, whom would you select, and why?

Follow Up

  • Use a laser pointer to highlight images in the video or related illustrations you have posted on your bulletin board. Please remind students that lasers can be dangerous if they are pointed at people’s eyes!
  • Liquid crystal technology, like an infrared camera, shows different temperatures as different colors. Use a liquid crystal thermometer to map the temperature of different areas on your skin. Which is warmer, your hands or your face?
  • Use the Internet to research laser measurement, infrared cameras, infrared remote control devices, remote tracking devices, or other technologies mentioned in the program.

Fun Fact

The territory of a single Sumatran tiger is about half the size of New York City.

The following National Science Education standards for Grades 5-8 apply when using these materials:

LIFE SCIENCE: Content Standard C – Populations and ecosystems, Diversity and adaptations of organisms; SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Content Standard E – Understanding about science and technology; HISTORY/NATURE OF SCIENCE: Content Standard G – Science as a human endeavor. For more information on the Web, go to

The following National Council of Teachers of English standards apply when using these materials: Standard 8: Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge. For more information on the Web, go to

  • Gaptek

    What is better? And what do you see NASA using in 50 or 100 years from now laser propulsion or pulsed lasers.

    Would laser propulsion or pulsed lasers bring the cost of going up in space down.

Inside This Lesson

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