Hecht, Samuel, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Ku, Tsai-Hsuan, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Ibrahim, Ahmed, Computer Science, University of Virginia

This thesis is concerned with the current problem of deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. Deforestation is often utilized to clear forest lands in order to expand beef and soy industries, as well as expand infrastructure. This trend is very concerning as rainforests act as an extremely significant carbon store, and they are also home to many indigenous tribes who rely on the rainforests to sustain life. The technical portion of this thesis describes my capstone team’s efforts to create an online learning platform about the Amazon Rainforest in order to spread awareness about the dangers of deforestation. The STS portion of this thesis examines the different social groups invested in the Amazon, and how their meanings for the rainforest are shaping the current state of deforestation.
My capstone group worked alongside an organization called Amazon Aid in order to expand upon their learning platform. This platform consists of a game in which students can progress through the levels of Amazonian tree species and interact with relevant educational content. Students are also able to post their opinions about the Rainforest through the ‘Voices’ page. Much of our work was centered around creating a login system that was suitable for middle school classrooms. This required creating an anonymous login system, as organizations are not allowed to collect any student data. In addition to this login system, our group worked to make the game navigation more engaging, and added tools to allow teachers to track student progress such as the teacher admin page.
The STS portion of this thesis examines the Amazon Rainforest as a technology through the use of the Social Construction of Technology Framework (SCOT). This involved identifying all of the social groups with a vested interest in the Amazon Rainforest, and analyzing the meanings of the Rainforest to those groups. This analysis was performed with the goal of finding a common meaning that these social groups could adopt to promote conservation. In order to reach a common goal of conservation, socio-economic and political issues in Brazil were found to be some of the most difficult problems needing resolution.
The technical and STS portion of this thesis are loosely coupled in that they both have the goal of promoting conservation in the Amazon. However, education is not the main focus of the STS thesis. Education is certainly a way to influence the meaning of the Rainforest for certain social groups, but it may be ineffective for swaying some of the key groups such as the Brazilian government.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Deforestation, SCOT, Amazon Rainforest

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Ahmed Ibrahim
STS Advisor: Tsai-Hsuan Ku, Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Trevor Bedsaul, Henry Clabby, Ryan Coulter, Dylan Peters, Teddy Vallar, Rob Wallace

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