Thursday, January 16, 2014

Education : Dian Fossey, a great woman in the mist

Dian Fossey Google Doodle

Wow ! Here I am writing about a new Google Doodle. it's a resource that we can miss to introduce a new subject in the classroom or just to surprise students with something different as a motivation to learn about someone they saw on Google homepage (you know they are the Google-gen) but don't have a clue.Or may yes, they have. Who knows? We always have the smartest kids in the classroom.
Google is commemorating the 82nd birthday of American zoologist Dian Fossey. The doodle features a group of gorillas, with one touching Dian Fossey’s hair while she makes notes.
Another great woman breaking gender barrier? Remember Amelia Earhart ? Yes, great women that broke gender barrier following their dreams on dangerous careers.
Everybody watched the film Gorillas in the Mist(1988) starring Sigourney Weaver as naturalist Dian Fossey. It tells the true-life story of her work in Rwanda with Mountain Gorillas and was nominated for five Academy Awards. Based on Portions of Dian Fossey's Gorillas in the Mist (1983) and the Hayes article. The book covers Fossey's scientific career in great detail.

Fossey an American zoologist studied gorillas living in the mountain forests of Rwanda, Africa, in great depth over a period of 18 years.

Her extensive research greatly enriched the scientific community’s understanding of mountain gorillas.

Dian Fossey

According to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which is dedicated to the conservation and protection of gorillas, Dian Fossey's early interest in animals and her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian. 

After studying the subject at San Jose State College, she changed her major to occupational therapy. However, her love for animals never faltered, and she was at the same time becoming increasingly interested in Africa.

Revealed in 1970 by National Geographic cover, which shows Fossey touching the hand of a wild gorilla, she obtained her Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Cambridge in 1974, at age 42. 

By 1966, she had won funding from the National Geographic Society and the Wilkie Brothers’ Foundation to begin a research project in the Congo.  She had to move the study to Rwanda due the political situation.

She is considered as a reference in the defense of animal rights, and was one of the first Americans to settle in Africa, adapting to the lifestyle and local traditions.

In 1967, she founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans.

Sigourney Weaver | Dian Fossey
photo: credits Reuters
Fossey died in 1985 when she was killed in her cabin in Karisoke. The Digit Fund, which she created to finance her anti-poaching patrols (1978), was renamed the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International following her death. 

Thirty years later, Dian Fossey was laid to rest in the graveyard behind her cabin at Karisoke, among her gorilla friends.

Just three years after her death, her life story was made into the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist starring Sigourney Weaver.


As my usual readers, teachers and parents, know, I plead for Environmental education in cross-curricula at school. My goal is to help students come to appreciate and understand the science of ecology, and subsequently gain the capability to apply it to their lives.

Linking school success with individual student growth controls for factors outside the classroom that may affect an individual student’s ability to learn. I write about it since the beginning of this blog.

Dian Fossey

But Dian Fossey is more than a ecologist. She is a woman researcher (there are not many in the field). So, she can be a good reference for your girls students at school. Later, in college, young women can become researchers in the fields of ecology and zoology. 

This effort will translate into a citizenry that is more motivated, competent and confident at protecting and improving the quality of their environment.

My post celebrates Dian Fossey. I expect to help improve the understanding and appreciation of the science of ecology in Education.

As teachers, we can create a customized program that focuses on activities and research to enhance students enthusiasm and understanding for ecology or zoology.

The centerpiece will be motivating students for the resources studies: documents, maps, newspaper articles, oral histories or photographs, videos, films, from which students are asked to gather, examine,  analyze information, discuss and synthesize insights. 

Other resources: Video with Dian Fossey below:

Multimedia | Videos


Making friends with Mountain Gorillas | National Geographic

Learning & Fun

Fossey also criticised tourist programs, often paid for by international conservation organisations, for interfering with both research and the peace of the animals. 

I can't agree more after the last newon a safari in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, when an elephant was killed.
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Education : Dian Fossey, a great woman in the mist by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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