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Destination Mentawai Islands

“Remote and isolated” – so SurfAid International describes the Mentawai Islands. In order to understand the culture and living conditions of the Mentawai people, students need to understand the geography of the Mentawai Islands in relation to the rest of the world.

This interdisciplinary unit provides a lively and engaging introduction to the Mentawai Islands organized around the Five Themes of Geography. In preparation for an imaginary trip to the islands, students explore the geography, climate and natural environment of the islands, covering topics including climate zones, ecology and rainforests. Working in groups, they consider the range of activities available to tourists and develop a “real life” travel itinerary using the internet. As the terms “remote” and “isolated” move from the abstract to the concrete, students consider the implications for the Mentawai people of inhabiting a location that for most of history has been isolated from the rest of the world, and the ways in which modern transportation is changing that relationship.

Student-centered lessons incorporate significant attention to English-Language Arts, particularly writing skills, as well as research and analysis skills important in Science and the Social Sciences. Generally geared towards students in upper elementary and middle school, most lessons are easily adapted either up or down grade levels.

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