Created in 2006 by science journalist Paola Catapano, MINIDARWIN aims at taking groups of children on scientific expeditions coached by real scientists and science communication professionals.

On the occasion of International Year of Biodiversity 2010, theMiniDarwins are ready to leave on their third expedition, to the Amazon Forest, devoted to biodiversity and its socio-economic spin offs. The MiniDarwins will be coached by biodiversity scientists and an ecological socio-economist specialised in ethno-ecology to experience life with an Indigenous population in the Amazon Forest

During the trip, we will publish on this blog a diary of the expedition and some of the photos, videos, interviews and texts we are producing for later publication on our website, book, reportage and documentary film.

The Participants


Polina– Not yet 8 years old, she is the youngest MiniDarwin in this expedition and a newcomer. She was born and lives in Rotterdam with her father Fred (Dutch), her mum Svetlana (Russian) her brother Stas, who is five years younger, and her 'little black panther', a cat called Ugo. She likes to observe the plants, insects, birds and little animals she finds in the garden and has become a member of Unicef children's club, because she likes children in all countries. At the moment she is very excited about getting to know the children of the Amazon rainforest, but the birds, insects and apes as well.

Maxine – Maxine is 9 and has already taken part in the second MiniDarwin expedition, on the Italian volcanoes. She was born in Geneva, where she goes to an international school, lives right across the border in France and speaks currently Dutch (her mother tongue), French and English. She adores animals: she has two cats (Murphy and Minty), two guinea pigs, rides ponys and walks her grandparents dog Duchka … but her favourite is the pink dolphin of the Amazon River and she can’t wait to see one!

Kai– He’s Maxine’s older brother and will turn 12 in September. During the volcanoes expedition, he was the boldest climber on Stromboli, reaching the top far before the others without a sign of fatigue. He plays football, is very proud of the Dutch football team at the latest World Cup, and is a daredevil skier! In spite of his restlessness, he’s extremely sensitive to the loss of species, worried for all the threats on the rainforest and ready to put all his energy to fight it! He adored swimming with the manatees in Florida during the summer holidays last year. He’s an extremely capable reportage photographer and he’s been assigned the role of support photographer during this expedition.

Alberto – A veteran of the MiniDarwin group, Alberto is almost 13 and took part in the two previous expditions. A keen Optimist sailor, he is the “pure” scientist of the group, with a passion for maths, astronomy and physics since his early childhood. When he was four, he was fascinated by volcanoes and proposed to pay his nanny to carry his instruments during the field work when he would grow up. Following the 2008 expedition, his interest moved to volcanoes on other planets, so he decided to become an astronaut: he loved being a Mission Specialist during the Family Astronaut Training at the Kennedy Space Center, last summer. After the Galapagos expedition, he begged his mother to move to a house with a garden and adopt two cats. Lolly Pop and Sirius Black are now his best friends, … after Kai.

Julia The daughter of an Italian ethno-economist and a Brazilian anthropologist, Julia is 13, she was born in Brazil and lived in Boa Vista until last year with her parents and her two sisters, Barbara (4) and Chiara (6). She is now spending a school year in Orleans, France, and his fluent in Brazilian, Italian and French. Between the age of six months and three years, she spent long periods in the Terra Indigena Raposa Serra do Sol, in the Maturuca village (Roraima), where her parents were studying the resident populations. She is already a good friend of Kai, Alberto and Maxine and will be their Brazilian reference before and after the trip.