The coming summer features four major programs beginning in early May. First, we are working with Brazilian non-profit ECOA to bring small scale biodigesters, wind turbines, and water filters to rural communities in the Pantanal. Undergraduate and graduate students from Michigan and Brazil will be teaching and installing these sustainable technologies with families in the communities.
Throughout the summer, we will continue to teach music with our partner non-profit the Ciranda Institute and students from the United States. We are testing a new internet video conference teaching program that will involve young music students in Brazil learning from and with musicians in the United States. We are presenting about this project at the International Society of Music Education conference in Porto Alegre in July.
Another group of University of Michigan students will be working at local schools and ecolodges to teach English to kids and adults in the tourism industry. Additionally, PCER is opening its doors to more undergraduate students through a program with Stanford University that will focus on the biology and ecology of the Pantanal.The coming summer features four major programs beginning in early May. First, we are working with Brazilian non-profit ECOA to bring small scale biodigesters, wind turbines, and water filters to rural communities in the Pantanal. Undergraduate and graduate students from Michigan and Brazil will be teaching and installing these sustainable technologies with families in the communities.
After four weeks of music classes, the students of Nazare had their first concert today! The PME team will be blogging soon in greater detail. For now, here's some footage of today's performance
We've begun the Pantanal Music Exchange teaching program in the past few weeks here, working with kids at the Nazaré Orphanage to learn to play the violin, viola, and cello.
Working with a wide range of ages (and attention spans) has been a challenge, but a core group of older students has already emerged as dedicated musicians. Due to age gaps we decided to hold separate classes for the older students. They have started to take strong leadership roles in the classes we hold with the younger students as well.
In our first week and a half together we worked to establish strong fundamentals in bow and instrument positions. Of course, just holding the instruments didn’t really satisfy the kids, who wanted to immediately play the instruments they were learning to hold. After some rhythm games, learning the string names, pizzicato exercises, beginning bow technique, and a lot of patience we dove into learning a short canção: The Flower Song. Evanildo, Pedro, and Luis played a lovely two part harmony to the Flower Song at the end of class on Monday.
After finishing up our water, waste and wind technology projects at schools and our base in the Pantanal, we've begun the second phase of the summer here, in which we will be teaching CPR, English, and music at local schools and our partner orphanage Nazaré.
During the last week of June we visited the schools
at Chumbo and Cangas to teach First-aid and CPR. Although the classes were to
follow a very structured format, at times it was difficult to complete a lesson
as planned and still address all of the students’ (and teachers’)
misconceptions about basic health issues. The general lack of (correct) knowledge
about common illnesses and bodily mechanisms was both frustrating and
illuminating. We spent a fair bit of time convincing some that hitting a person
on the back was not an acceptable substitute for the Heimlich maneuver. In the
end, though, being able to sort through and eliminate at least some of their
misinformation was rewarding, especially with regard to life-saving skills like
On the first day, students learned how
to safely and effectively analyze an emergency situation and identify life-threatening
injuries. Students left the lesson with the ability to identify the presence of
several vital signs such as pulse and breathing. They also learned how to
evaluate a victim’s mental status. The second day focused on basic wound care
management. The students now know how to stop many types of bleeding and splint
various parts of the body. We actually heard a story of a student who, the day
after taking our class, ran home to splint her brother’s broken arm! Our final
day was spent teaching CPR. We showed them an instructional video (in
Portuguese), approved for use by the American Heart Association. At times
during the video we would interject in order to elaborate on or simplify
certain concepts. The students were able to practice chest compression technique
on our makeshift mannequins.
Phase one of summer 2013 is now complete. PCER hosted three technology projects: a team teaching bio-sand water filters, water filtration, and water-borne illnesses; a team dedicated to designing a functional bio-digester; and a team that installed two wind turbines at PCER. Additionally, we hosted a project to measure environmental mercury to evaluate the impact of local gold mining operations.
The water filters team spent almost all their time at local schools, where they taught first to older kids and then to younger kids with the help of older kid volunteers. Our team and helpers installed two functional filters at schools. Students will present the filters as part of the semester theme project of healthy living. The teams of local students will, over their winter vacation (beginning in mid-July), take these technologies to more rural communities.
The bio-digester team and wind turbine team spent more of their time developing and constructing technologies at PCER in the heart of the Pantanal. The technologies are still being tweaked and tested.
Left: Students teach about water filtration at Chumbo. Middle: a reduced-scale model wind turbine is demonstrated at Chumbo. Right: Loading the bio-digester at PCER.
Water Systems' workshops are in full swing in the rural town of Chumbo. Pictured to the left is Ethan lecturing, in a cloud of bacteria, at a local school.
Students are leading a series of basic engineering and water sanitation workshops at the schools in the towns of Congas and Chumbo, on the edge of Pantanal. The classes focus on the importance of clean drinking water and together they build sand-based water filters. Adult evening classes are currently underway to spread the word across the community. The goal is that the kids and parents will jointly understand the water issues to help alleviate a number of serious diseases that plague the area.
Check out all the photos*, including adult night classes, here!
*Photos by Marcin Szczepanski/University of Michigan, College of Engineering, Multimedia Producer