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Special Collection

Jane Goodall

A legendary scientist, conservationist, and humanitarian whose groundbreaking discoveries shaped our understanding of what it is to be human

Jane Goodall is groomed by a chimpanzee in the Brazzaville Zoo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Photograph by Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative.

Jane Goodall climbs a tree.

Photograph by Hugo Van Lawick/National Geographic Creative

Jane Goodall visits with students at her 'Roots and Shoots' program in Danbury, Connecticut.

Photograph by Michael Nichols/National Geographic Creative

In the 1960s, with no formal academic training, Jane Goodall ventured into the forests of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, to observe chimpanzees in the wild. During her time there she made three observations of chimpanzees that challenged conventional scientific theories held at the time: (1) chimps are omnivores not herbivores, (2) chimps make and use tools, and (3) chimps make their tools (at the time, a trait used to define humans). These insights altered the way we understood our place in the animal kingdom and opened doors for other women in science. Jane is still hard at work today, traveling approximately 300 days a year, raising awareness and money to protect the chimpanzees and their habitat through her nonprofit organization the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) and JGI’s youth program, Roots & Shoots.

Use the classroom resources below to teach about the importance of conservation and how today’s students—and tomorrow's leaders—can make an impact.

National Geographic Documentary Films

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Drawing from over 100 hours of never-before-seen footage from the National Geographic archives, award-winning director Brett Morgen tells the story of Jane Goodall, a woman whose chimpanzee research challenged the male-dominated scientific consensus of her time and revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Set to a rich orchestral score from legendary composer Philip Glass, the film offers an unprecedented, intimate portrait of Jane—a trailblazer who defied the odds to become one of the world’s most admired conservationists. 

Airing on National Geographic. Visit www.janethemovie.com for more information.

Discussion Guide

Disclaimer: The content of this guide is solely the responsibility of the author and does not represent the official views of National Geographic Education.

Featured Materials

Check out this article, idea set, and media spotlight on Jane Goodall

A frightened chimpanzee runs away from Jane Goodall in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

Be Like Jane: Observing, Conserving, and Communicating

Jane Goodall is a world-famous ethnologist and conservationist. Use these ideas to learn more about the contributions she made to science and those who have continued her work.

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Jane Goodall: Reporting from Gombe Stream Game Reserve

Original correspondence from Jane Goodall to the National Geographic Society on the status of her research in September 1962.

Jane Goodall reaches out to an infant chimpanzee in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

Jane Goodall

Ethologist and conservationist Jane Goodall redefined what it means to be human and set the standard for how behavioral studies are conducted through her work with wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

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Does Tool Use Define Man?

A key observation Jane Goodall noted while studying at Gombe Stream National Park was that chimpanzees made and used tools. Prior to this discovery, scientists accepted that trait as a definition of humanity.

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Banana Thief

The chimpanzees that Jane Goodall began studying stole bananas from her tent. At first, Jane was ecstatic, but she soon learned that feeding the chimps had consequences.

Kahoot!

Engage your students with this Kahoot on geography, wildlife, and habitats. For additional instruction, options, and how to make your own Kahoot, see details.

Jane Goodall climbs a tree.

Kahoot! In the Field with Jane Goodall  

Answer questions about geography, wildlife, and evolution using clips from National Geographic’s Jane documentary.

Dear Jane

Have your students write a letter to conservationist Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall writes a letter during a boat ride on Lake Tanganyika from Kigoma to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

Jane Goodall writes a letter during a boat ride on Lake Tanganyika from Kigoma to Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

Photograph courtesy of Michael "Nick" Nichols/National Geographic Creative

 

Jane Goodall was the first person to observe chimpanzees creating and using tools—a trait that, at that time, was thought to be distinctly human. This discovery changed the way that we understand both animals and ourselves. With your class, read a letter written by Jane Goodall from the National Geographic archive. Then ask your students to respond to the prompt, “You have inspired me to be the first to…” Submit your students’ letters to National Geographic, where a committee will review and select exemplary letters to post online. Teachers who submit letters on behalf of their students will receive a copy of the film and the discussion guide.

 

Be Like Jane

Lesson and Activities

Use these materials to teach students about conducting expeditions like Jane’s and getting involved in conservation work.

Blue Holes: Being an Explorer

Blue Holes: Being an Explorer  

Lesson (Grade 7-12) This series of activities takes students through a process from defining exploration to planning, carrying out, and communicating the outcomes of a micro-expedition.

Classifying Information

Classifying Information  

Activity (Grades 3-5) Students practice classification skills using a collection of their shoes.

Observing and Recording Habitats

Observing and Recording Habitats  

Activity (Grade 3-5) Students select a habitat, observe it, and record their observations.

Preserving Critical Species: Inquiry to Action

Preserving Critical Species: Inquiry to Action  

Activity (Grades 7-12) Students identify and research compelling and supporting questions, leading them to develop explanations and arguments and, ultimately, to take action on issues related to preservation of species.

Species Identification

Species Identification  

Activity (Grades 6-12) Students consult expert resources to identify organisms observed during a plot study, and then use this research to complete species inventory cards that represent the biodiversity of the area studied.

Threatened Animals & Their Habitats

Threatened Animals & Their Habitats  

Activity (Grades 3-5) Students use Photo Ark images to research dangers affecting animals’ existence, then use the information to investigate links between habitat, ecosystem, and animal livelihood or extinction.

Women in Science

Meet some of National Geographic’s foremost scientists and explorers.

Geographies of Africa

Explore the physical and human geography of Africa with these resources.

High-Resolution Maps

Get up close with these high resolution maps of Africa.

2005 Africa Human Footprint Map

2005 Africa Human Footprint Map  

Investigate our world. Zoom in on this map examining human impact on the environment in Africa.

1963 Africa, Countries of the Nile

1963 Africa, Countries of the Nile  

Published in the October 1963 edition of National Geographic Magazine, this is a map of the region when Jane Goodall began her work with the chimpanzees.

Reference

Encourage students to learn more about conservation work with these encyclopedic entries.

Videos

Use these videos to introduce students to the work of Jane Goodall and others like her.

Image Gallery

Although Jane initially balked at having Hugo van Lawick document her work with the chimpanzees, their partnership resulted in these beautiful images.

Disclaimer: Jane goodall is shown here feeding and touching wild chimpanzees. This is now known to be poor scientific practice and can be dangerous for both the wild animal and the human.

Follow Jane

Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Program

Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Program  

Roots & Shoots provides young people with the knowledge, tools, and hopeful inspiration to improve the environment and the quality of life for people and animals.

the Jane Goodall Institute

the Jane Goodall Institute  

A global conservation organization that believes by protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, and animals, and the environment. 

Other Resources

Check out these other National Geographic Programs!

Explorers in the Classroom

Explorers in the Classroom  

Transport your students from the classroom to the frontiers of exploration through live video conversations with National Geographic Explorers.

Educator Certification

Educator Certification  

Join the 30,000+ educators who have completed a National Geographic teacher training program.

National Geographic Bee

National Geographic Bee  

The National Geographic Bee is an annual competition organized by the National Geographic Society, designed to inspire  and reward students' curiosity about the world.