Global Forestry, Chicago Water

On May 26 and 27, Upper School students in Bridget Lesinksi’s and Elizabeth Druger’s Biology classes, as well as some of JP Iaconianni and Leslie Webster’s Chemistry students, took field trips that highlighted both local and global ecosystems. A visit to Chicago’s Water Processing Facility, led by Parker parent Barrett Murphy and engineer John Ellis, provided an in-depth look at Chicago’s water systems, and an interactive tree tour at the North Park Village Nature Center allowed students to collect data for a global forestry project.

Biology students participated in a pilot project that partnered students in Russian and American schools as citizen scientists. The Global Forest Link project involved students from Alma Ata, Moscow, Irkutsk and many other Russian cities, as well as students from several U.S. cities. While Parker represented Chicago for the project, the Francis Parker School in San Diego represented California.

Global Forest Link leaders explain: “Forests help purify the air we breathe and mitigate climate change. Forest health is a multidisciplinary and collaborative field of study that involves the understanding, monitoring and protection of the world’s forest resources. Global Forest Link participants have an opportunity to build an interactive database that will help environmentalists worldwide to conduct important research.”

The Global Forestry project enabled students to:

  • Engage in cross-cultural exchanges with peers from American and Russian schools, increasing awareness of global environmental issues and appreciation of other cultures
  • Learn the basics of environmental remote sensing using satellite images—a technology that is increasingly being used for environmental monitoring
  • Make authentic contributions to understanding forest change (caused by fires, drought, insect infestation, logging, human development, climate, environmental stress and excessive forest density)
  • Publish findings online, providing students with credible references for their university, college and career paths

Through Skype and Zoom and digital stories, Parker students connected with students in many Russian cities, sharing perspectives about their school days, career plans and local environment.

Thanks to Lesinski and Druger for their leadership in this ambitious project, and to Iaconianni and Webster for chaperoning the field trip. Thank you also to Barrett Murphy and John Ellis for the Water Processing Tours and Bob Porter for hosting Parker’s tree tours at the Nature Center.


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