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Our Story

We started the Panama Experience program in 2010 with the idea of developing a network of science teachers from multiple Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) who share a meaningful research experience in tropical ecology. The teachers collaborate on developing a comprehensive curriculum to teach major concepts in environmental science to inner-city Milwaukee Public School (MPS) students.


Since 2010, more than 18 MPS teachers have participated in the program in Panama. While in Panama, the teachers worked on research projects that were being conducted in the Schnitzer lab at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Their work and study gave rise to the development of a five-unit teaching module on ecology and environmental science based on Wisconsin State and National Standards. More than 30 additional teachers have participated in our science workshops in Milwaukee and follow-up lesson planning and resource development. 


To date, the teaching modules and resources have been used to educate more than 500 students in more than11 different MPS schools from a diversity of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. 


How to use this site

The Panama Experience website is designed to educate teachers, students, and interested members of the public about tropical ecology and the Milwaukee Public School teacher Panama research experience. The website has information about the Research Experience in Panama for Milwaukee Public School Teachers program. The multi-unit teaching modules that we have developed can be downloaded from the Curriculum page of this site. 

As we continue the Panama Experience, we will continue to add to our selection of teaching modules.

The next Panama Experience trip to Panama will be in summer 2022

Not sure what to do next? Read more specifics about how to use this site if you are a teacher, student, or family member

Meet The Program Director

Dr. Stefan Schnitzer is the Director of Environmental Studies and a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. He holds appointments as an Adjunct Curator at the Milwaukee Public Museum and as a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution in the Republic of Panama. He conducts the majority of his research in Panama. 


More information on Stefan Schnitzer and the research that is being conducted in the Schnitzer Lab can be found at

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