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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Geography, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Video, 10 minutes, 34 seconds, CC
  • Worksheet

Regional Focus

South and Central America


PDF, Downloadable MP4/M4V

Mapping the Darien Gap

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  • This video and the accompanying comprehension and data analysis questions introduce students to the efforts of Indigenous people in Darién, Panama, to protect the tropical rainforest on their land from deforestation and illegal encroachment using images taken from drones.
  • The worksheet includes comprehension, critical thinking, and data analysis questions, as well as maps and graphs.
Teaching Tips


  • The downloadable video and worksheet are also available in Spanish.
  • By the end of the lesson, students will be able to develop scientific explanations and describe how mapping can contribute to the sustainable development of protected lands.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The entire activity should take about 1 hour to complete.
  • It is recommended that students read the questions from the worksheet before watching the video.
  • In the worksheet, students will also be asked to analyze and draw conclusions from bar graphs.


  • Have students reflect on Indigenous peoples' vital role in conservation and climate action as land defenders.
  • Have students consider why Indigenous land rights are important for Indigenous peoples and the climate.
  • Engineering and technology classes can use this resource to connect to lessons about the benefits of technology and recent advancements in digital images, cameras, file storage capacity, and drones for use in conservation and other scientific fields.
  • Use this article to learn more about the impact of Indigenous land tenure and this lesson to learn more about Indigenous communities' connection to the environment.
Scientist Notes
This resource provides insights on how drone technology can provide forest mapping services. It shows how the Indigenous peoples of Darién are equipped at deploying drone technology to monitor changes in their forest resources, land use, and land cover. This is an important activity to replicate in other territories and areas at risk of forest degradation and climate change. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., quantitative data, video, multimedia) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
  • Common Core Math Standards (CCSS.MATH)
    • Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.ID.A.3 Interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
    • Statistics & Probability: Making Inferences & Justifying Conclusions (9-12)
      • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSS.IC.A.1 Understand statistics as a process for making inferences about population parameters based on a random sample from that population.
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