Packs full, they head into Peru’s Amazon jungle looking to feed their souls, expand their professional toolkits, and anchor themselves to a global perspective.
It’s not what most teachers think of when they hear “professional development.”
A New Definition of Professional Development
The Morpho Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is set on changing what PD means. They envision a world where educators have the opportunity to participate in conversation, sustainability, and environmental stewardship firsthand.
With a mission to protect the Amazon, they invite a small group of teachers every year to participate in their field workshops to apply STEM strategies of inquiry and place-based learning.
“The biggest thing we try to accomplish in the field is to give teachers the chance to be students again,” says Christa Dillabaugh, Executive Director of The Morpho Institute.
PocketLab in the Amazon
In 2020, they started bringing PocketLab sensors along for the trip.
They were looking for a robust solution that's easy to travel with and simple to set up in the field. They didn’t want hefty equipment, and they needed something affordable.
PocketLab was the perfect companion to help collect data for their projects. It allowed them to be agile in collecting data in the field, and then access that data once they got back home to gain further insights.
Dillabaugh says the simplicity of using PocketLab in the field gives her confidence that teachers and students everywhere will have no trouble using the sensors in their classrooms.
“One of the challenges is finding the time to implement the use of technology in the classroom effectively,” says Rebecca Wingerden, Teacher at Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria, California. “You want the kids to do the discovery. You want to give them something and just let them go.”
That’s what drew Wingerden to PocketLab. The sensors don’t need to be calibrated to get good data, they can quickly be deployed to the field, and they break down the barriers that other data collection tools often have.
Rebecca is an alumnus of the Educator Academy in the Amazon and was the inspiration for deploying PocketLabs for data collection in the jungle. She’s also returned multiple times as a teacher leader and faculty member.
“One of the major goals of The Morpho Institute is Amazon Conservation,” says The Morpho Institute Executive Director, Christa Dillabaugh. “But a lot of it has to do with how you can bring it back to the classroom and make those global to local connections and help kids see where the similarities and differences are.”
If you’re looking for new ways to help your students make these connections, you may want to consider joining The Morpho Institute on their next Amazon adventure. You can learn more at morphoinstitute.org.