Dear Educator,

Welcome to LIVE FROM THE RAINFOREST, 6th in the ongoing PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE series of interactive learning experiences. Last year PTK and NASA took you and your students to Mars, cold, dry, and on the surface at least lifeless. We also visited NSF's Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, a place with only a few species of plants and creatures hardy enough to survive the cold and dark.

Now, for something completely different÷wet, warm, wild and wonderful, rich with record-setting numbers of species of trees, insects and animals. Rainforests are, along with coral-reefs (PTK will get there in a year or so!) one of the greatest expressions of life on Earth, as Tom Lovejoy of the Smithsonian says. And the Amazon rainforest is the greatest of the greatest÷the largest expanse of rainforest left on the planet, watered by the mightiest river on Earth, with arguably the greatest biodiversity of any place humans yet know of in the entire universe. And it's home to a bi-national Brazilian/U.S. research project that's arguably the most extensive environmental experiment ever.

If those aren't enough superlatives to get you excited, PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE has retained all its proven components, and added and improved new features.

This LFRF Web site has a rich, graphic design which we hope will make it easier and more fun to use for teachers, students and the general public, while still being as rich with information as our earlier offerings. Once again there's plenty of opportunity for students to interact online via e-mail with working researchers, and for teachers to brainstorm with fellow teachers.

And though we call the videos LIVE FROM· we've tried to ensure LFRF functions as an enduring resource long after the initial broadcasts. You'll find the Teacher's Guide, videotapes, MultiMedia Kit and Web site provide plenty of exciting action beyond April 1998. 50% of teachers already use PTK successfully on tape instead of only watching live, and we've worked hard to ensure these materials support that approach.

Lastly, while many existing projects look at rainforest issues, we've tried to concentrate on the fundamental scientific principles that can be seen in unusually dramatic and engaging high relief in the rainforests, and temperate forests, of our planet. The Guide provides hands-on activities inviting students to explore detailed aspects of forest structure, to get to the heart of photosynthesis÷a key science principle at all grade levels÷and even use their footwear to get to the root (pun intended) of biodiversity (see Activity 2.1 SNEAKER SPECIATION)

If you think you already know rainforests, we assure you don't appreciate them the way you will after LIVE FROM THE RAINFOREST! And if you've come to know PTK through our space and astronomy Modules, be assured that NASA's Mission to Planet Earth is a partner in this project, and that remote sensing from orbit is indeed a great way to see the big picture of the forest, because down on the ground there are just too many trees!

Once more, welcome aboard. Thank you for your interest in and commitment to innovative science teaching and learning. We hope you and your students enjoy LIVE FROM THE RAINFOREST!


Geoff Haines-Stiles
Project Director,
and the LIVE FROM specials

Executive Producer