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.

Route + Themes

Itinerary and themes - Brief outline
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1.    Fernando de Noronha
It’s here that the Beagle docked on February 20, 1832. At the time, Charles Darwin could not imagine that the Archipelago would be inscribed today on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Fernando de Noronha is a “hot spot” of biodiversity, a crucial place for the conservation of the Southern Atlantic threatened species, in particular marine turtles.

2.    Manaus
In the capital city of the Brazilian Amazon region, the MiniDarwin will receive an introduction to the themes of research in Amazonia, in both biological and social sciences, to be prepared to a short cohabitation with the resident populations of the rainforest. After a first encounter with the Rainforest, which occupies a large part of the city, they will embark on a traditional boat along the he longest river in the world and the vital force of the entire region.

3.    The Amazon River 
The mighty Amazon River starts in the Andes Mountains and flows more than 4,000 miles across the South American continent through the centre of the rainforest, until it enters the Atlantic Ocean in Belem on the Brazilian North-East coast. The Amazon is by far the largest watershed and largest river system in the world, occupying over six million square kilometres, more than two-thirds of all the fresh water on Earth and two thousand different species of fish, more than the Atlantic Ocean! The MiniDarwin will navigate 500 km from Manaus to Tefé.

4.    Tefé
 The starting place for all expeditions in the rainforest will offer the MiniDarwin a first encounter with the rainforest indigenous culture, at the Multicultura guesthouse. A few hours navigation in canoes with Indio’s guides will then take them to the central leg of the expedition.

5.    Mamirauá Reserve for Sustainable Development
Mamirauà is a unique place which very few people have the chance to visit.  The reserve protects the largest area of rainforest in the world, and is based on an innovative (sustainable) model of conservation of biodiversity. In the Mamirauà reserve, scientific research regulates the use of natural resources with the participation of the resident population. The MiniDarwin will observe a very rich ecosystem of endemic and threatened species, including the charismatic bald uakari (Cacajao calvus calvus), a symbol of the Reserve, two species of fresh water dolphins (including the pink dolphin “boto rosa”), nineteen species of parrots, six species of toucans and the black caiman (Melanosochus niger), the largest predator of South America.