Rainforest Connection (RFCx) founder and National Geographic Explorer Topher White visited Wildwood’s 8th grade students to engage their help in protecting the planet’s vulnerable rainforests. As part of the Planet Guardians program, students in a handful of "STEM" schools in Los Angeles (including Wildwood) were tasked with helping RFCx assemble “guardians.”
Guardians are devices that use solar power and Google’s open source machine learning framework (TensorFlow) to allow upcycled smartphones to listen to the sounds of the rainforests and detect illegal logging. Our 8th graders reprogrammed cell phones and installed them in the waterproof plastic encasements they built with microphones, wires, and solar panels.
On Earth Day, these devices were installed high in the trees by the Tembé tribe in the Amazon. Students will receive real-time text alerts about illegal logging activity detected by the guardians. These same alerts allow the tribal forest rangers to pinpoint and stop logging as it happens. RFCx estimates that the devices will help to protect nearly 100,000 acres of rainforest through the year 2020.
To learn more about this project and the work of RFCx, click here.