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Turn the volume up load, kick back, and learn about the greatest educational initiative on the planet.

For teachers who want to get involved, check out the amazing resources available, or register your class at www.deforestACTION.com today!

Your students will be the driving force of this project. They will work with the action agents in the field daily.  They will be responsible for saving the planet.

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DeforestACTION top 50

This week we announced the top 50 ‘Action Agents’ for DeforestACTION –  a shortlist of young people volunteering to spend 100 days in the jungles of Borneo to work on the DeforestACTION project. Action agents will become the eyes, ears and hands of young people around the world, and work from the ground in Borneo.  Congratulations to you all!

These action agents will help school students globally execute their projects, provide real time data, photos, stories and ideas from the field.  And, they will become global superstars, featuring as heroes / heroines in one of the most ambitious 3D movies ever attempted.

In the coming week, the list will be further refined to the top 20 recruits who will undertake an online audition / interview, and medical tests to ensure suitability for the conditions on the ground. At the end of this process, we will have 10 recruits, ready to take on the world, and 10 stand-by recruits, ready to fill their shoes if required.

The top 50 are truly incredible people and have demonstrated a willingness to do whatever it takes to save the planet, regardless of whether they make the top 20.  They are more than inspirational, they are an embodiment of hope in a world that is hungry to recognize them. 

With so many incredible volunteers, inspiration leaders, and passionate activists who didn’t make the top 50, we have decided to modify the project to ensure each of the applicants can participate, visit Borneo, work with Dr.Smits, and star in the movie – for up to 14 days.

Why are we so keen to include them in this project?  You will no doubt be inspired, as you check out people like Dan Pask, Toby Crocker, Emma Williams, Matthew Winkler,  Liam O’Doherty, Joshua Nicolaou, Walter Heck, Amber Brovelli and so many others in the application gallery.

To get to Borneo, they will need our help, as they take local actions, raise funds to save land and animals, and to create global awareness.   We should remember, deforestation is a global problem.  We must all work together to solve it. Please, get behind the recruits. Help them reach their goals.. and work with them to save the planet!

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The DFA Equation

How can young people around the world really make a difference to the forests of the planet?  And why do they think this will really make a lasting change?  Is this truly something that will engage them in learning across a range of discipline areas?  The answer is in the six parts to the DeforestACTION student project.

The DeforestACTION equation

The six components for learning and the future of life on the planet

 Part 1: Regrowing a rainforest with Dr. Willie Smits.

Thousands of hectares of destroyed forest in Indonesia will be returned to a healthy forest, rich in biodiversity. This will be a large scale implementation of Samboja Lestari (see Willie’s TED talk for how this will be achieved).

For $2US, young people are rainsing money to ‘buy’ 1 square meter of land for reforesting, and to be protect it for 100 years.  Soon students will be able to view their forest online, via high definition video cameras, and will be provided virtual tools to measure the growth of the various trees and plants in their personal patches. They will also be able to measure online how much carbon has been sequestered, how many animals can survive in their patch, and to explore the variety of plant life in their land. The funds raised using this model will be used to create nurseries, necessary environmental documentations / surveys, and to train local people to care for the land and preserve it, and other necessary expenditure to preserve the land on these conditions, and to save wildlife who inhabit them. ‘

Part 2: Earth Watchers

Using a range of satellite imagery, with the latest tools from Bing, and specially developed software by Geodan, students will be able to monitor the rainforests and protect them from illegal deforestation. See my earlier post – How School Students Can Save the Planet on One Year for more details.  Students will also be able to compare, contrast and analyse spatial data for a range of other hands on activities to help protect and regrow forests.

Part 3: Mobile and Interactive Games

DeforestACTION partners are developing a range of electronic games, to allow students to experience the challenges of living in the rainforests, by taking on the role of orangutans.  The Orangutan Survival Game will pull in real time data about the forests, so as the young people learn about orangutan survival, they will be accutely aware of what is happening to the forests.  If they find themselves playing in an area of the forest where deforestation is occurring, their character will die- even if they were doing everything right.  This is the reality of life for orangutans.  Students could even play these games on a smartphone like Windows Phone etc.

Part 4: Dome Tree

Dome Tree

Students will help build the worlds largest tree as a centre for orangutan protection, preservation, rehabilitation and research

Dome tree will be the worlds largest tree.  Initially constructed using steel and concrete, this 70m high tree will be coated with a fertilizer coating to accelerate the growth of strangler fig shoots.  In approximately six years, this construction will be completely covered by a network of figs, and will become a rehabilitation centre for orangutans rescued by the DeforestACTION team. 

Dome Tree will feature touch screen technology, high definition video cameras, observation decks and high tech laboratories. Students will be able to view it online and in person.  The first stone of Dome Tree was layed in March 2011  with the Sultan of Yogyakarta.  This is a long term project, with an expected completion date of 2016-2018.

Part 5: Orangutan Rescue and Conservation:

The rescue and care of critically endangered orangutans from devastated regions is a central aspect of the project.Online participants will be able to monitor the progress of the orangutans being cared for at the Sintang Orangutan Centre and even adopt their own orangutan. For $5US a student will care for an orangutan for a day, including food, shelter and veterinary care.

Part 6: Global Awareness, Assistance to Local Landholders and Incubation of New Economies

Palm oil farming is literally destroying our planet. It has been estimated up to 40% of the products we buy in supermarkets contains some palm oil. There are real alternatives to palm oil that are both better for our health, and environmentally sustainable.  Through DeforestACTION, young people will seek to create global awareness about the destruction caused by palm oil farming, and to actively pressure consumers and producers for change.

One of the great myths palm oil companies would have us believe is farming palm oil is good for local landowners.  It is not.  In fact, it is catastrophic for locals, destroying their livelihoods, and leaving them homeless and without income.

A key aspect of DeforestACTION is providing local land owners with sustainable income, new economies and ongoing ability to generate an income in their villages by utilizing the land effectively.  For this project, the effective use of sugar palms (a highly valuable tree that lives in the rainforest and depends on the ecosystem for survival) will be a key aspect of this project.

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How do teachers learn to get their students involved in global collaborative projects? Moving from the four walls of a traditional classroom to the exciting world of global collaboration is not only essential, it’s exciting and, as we’re seeing with DeforestACTION, can even change the world. If you get it right, students learn more, are more engaged, feel more empowered, and become proud contributors to a global society.
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 But, initially, it can be quite daunting and confusing for teachers. Fortunately, there’s a simple and powerful new online course to help you, and it’s run by TakingITGlobal – so you know it’s the best in the world.
TIG Courses
TakingITGlobal Education (TIGED) run the perfect course for teachers looking to extend learning beyond the classroom.

This exciting new course is run online – so you get the full elearning experience, and the facilitators will model the latest online learning strategies.  Here’s the outline:

The goal of the Introduction to Global Project-based Learning accredited course is to develop teachers’ understanding of and competencies in project-based global education. Utilizing the TakingITGlobal for Educators (TIGed) platform, we will explore why global education is so vital currently, and how e-technologies can bring the world into the classroom. In particular, this course will explore: a variety of specific approaches to project-based global education, including student-driven digital media projects; examples of effective global learning projects and what makes them successful; solution- and student-driven approaches to project-based learning; the use of TIGed virtual classrooms to support global learning; ways to meet the challenges of global education; and methods of determining the success of global projects, particularly in connection to a variety of educational benchmarks.

Through this e-course, participants will:

  • Explore how to utilize collaborative, project-based, student-driven, technology-enabled, international learning projects to meet traditional benchmarks in creative ways;
  • Identify the components and qualities associated with successful global learning projects, and how to recruit and work with partners in their implementation;
  • Learn how to employ TIGed virtual classroom tools to support global learning projects;
  • Investigate how global learning projects can be designed to meet specific educational standards; and
  • Determine strategies for overcoming challenges and obstacles that may arise in executing global learning projects, as well as for monitoring and evaluating success.

For the more advanced teachers, there are other courses.  You can check them out, or register here.

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The King (Sultan Hamengku Bowono X) of Java broadcasting to 20,000 students from 29 countries in the DeforestAction web launch. - Photo by Josh Raymond

Don’t look to Obama or the UN to save the planet from deadly climate change. Look to the young people in your classrooms who joined the first DeforestAction live web event  from Borneo last week and to the millions of friends with whom they are collaborating.  They will be responsible for saving the planet – well, they will certainly have a major impact and help take a big step in the right direction.
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Imagine if it was possible shut down every factory, car, truck, coal powered electricity station and every chainsaw in Australia (now rated the world’s highest CO2 emitter per head of population)  for one year.  This would save around 465 Million tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. If we could just convince Germany, Sweden and France to do the same, we could save around 3 billion tons of CO2 entering the atmosphere per year.
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Alternatively, by stopping illegal deforestation in Borneo (over 70% of all logging in Borneo is illegal), in one  year we could save 3.5 billion tons of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere  – that’s more than the annual CO2 emissions of Sweden, Germany, France and Australia put together.
 
Last week in Indonesia, the DeforestAction team met with the Sultan of Java (Hamengku Bowono X), the Bupati of Sintang Borneo, the heads of the police, the military, the chiefs of the tribes, and the heads of the church, and received universal support for this project.

The Bupati of Sintang Borneo offers full military and governmental support to the DeforestAction team to stop deforestation

Their key message :
Indonesia desperately want to stop illegal deforestation but needs help to do this. If the DeforestAction team can provide reliable real time advice on where illegal deforestation is occuring, they will support use this information to act powerfully.
Currently, there are millions of satellite photos taken every week.  Even the most powerful computers in the world are unable to sufficiently monitor the forest for illegal activity.  But, millions of students, with simple technology from Microsoft and Geodan, can provide exactly the right information, quickly and efficiently.
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How will it work?
Using Bing Maps, some high level programming by Dutch company Geodan, and the latest satellite technology, the entire forest area of borneo will be divided into hexagonal blocks. This will move from restricted pilot to full version in July 2011 allowing all school students to participate.
Each student will be provided weekly images of their ‘patch’, and use a simple tool to inspect the images for inconsistencies.  For discussion purposes only, imagine in the image below, this student identified some forest clearing.
Forest Monitoring
Students can monitor the forest from space and identify forest clearing. This data will be sent directly to a central point for validation.
Once change is detected, it is compared with the database of legal logging sites.  In this case, the logging has not been authorized.It is illegal!
 
 
 
Legal Area comparisons

Change detection is mapped against known legal logging sites. In this case, there is no match - the logging is illegal.

To verify the change, a lightweight plane “the Flying Dodo” will take low level, high definition photos of the site to verify the activity is illegal logging.
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
Flight Path

A light weigh plane "The Flying Dodo" will follow a flight path across all detected areas to gain additional information

Once verified, the high definition photographs will be provided with exact coordinates to the military and the police. Young people around the world will be notified that illegal logging has been detected and reported.
 
 
 
Confirmation

Confirmation of illegal logging

Within one week of reporting illegal activity, the perpetrators can be challenged, their activities exposed, and all students notified of the impact of their monitoring and intervention efforts.
Arrest

Criminals illegally destroying forests in Borneo will be arrested and charged within one week of students detecting change on their machines at home or school.

Illegal deforestation will no longer be the safe, lucrative operation it currently is. Within one year, students will create a powerful deterrant mechanism to illegal deforestation. To learn more, visit www.deforestaction.org.

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Young people marching

Millions of kids from across the planet decide to take action into their own hands.

Just how much do young people care about the rainforests?  Here’s a clue.

Virgo productions gave Varsity College one week to ask their students who would come out and rally behind the DeforestAction cause.  Of the nearly 3,000 students in the school, 700 turned up on the day, in their own time, to be part of the march.  These days, you’d be pushing your luck getting that many to turn up for ice cream.

Varsity College on the Gold Coast is one of the most impressive schools in Australia.  The leadership team at the school had been strong supporters of DeforestAction and heavily invovled from the second mentorship phase.

“The kids were extremely excited about being involved and Josh has already made a promotional movie to show all students at Varsity College.” – Jeff Davis, Executive Principal, Varsity College

But it’s the kids who really sell this story. The team from Virgo interviewed many of the students to find out why they care so much about this cause.  The answers were so profoundly strong, you’ll probably catch a few of them in the movie (or at least the DVD extras).

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Three primary schools in Victoria have analysed the academic results of students who are participating in DeforestAction and those who aren’t.  Students who were involved in the project are not only more engaged, but also have significantly higher learning outcomes in seemingly unrelated areas, particular numeracy and literacy.

It makes sense. Students are so engaged in the project, they want to write more, with a purpose. They want to solve problems more – because they feel they need to.  But what is so exciting about these reports is they are data driven.  Students in the same class levels, (some from the same class), who had been perfoming at the same level in a range of areas, are performing differently depending on whether they were involved in the project or not.

The ‘educational gurus’ have been talking about the importance of student directed learning, student voice, engagement, context and relevance for years.  That’s why collaborating for change is so important.  Because now we can prove it works.

Check out this very cool little clip from Dallas Primary School in Victoria.

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