Underwater archaeologist Dr. Guillermo de Anda studies the sacred geography of caves and cenotes on the Yucatan region of Mexico. He specializes in the study of burial and funeral rituals of the Maya civilization. To study this he must dive deep below the surface to study how the Maya buried and honored their dead.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Guillermo de Anda and the topics (archaeology, geography, ancient civilization) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.


Before the Show:

  • Have students review Guillermo de Anda’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Mexico, or use the MapMaker Interactive, to explore the areas where Guillermo de Anda works.

  • Have students read the “archaeology” encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of archaeology techniques. After reading, ask: How are the disciplines of archaeology different from one another? Describe the role of an archaeologist. What do you think a typical day of an archaeologist in the field might look like?

  • Read Underwater Archaeologist: Dr. Guillermo de Anda as a class to get to know the speaker, then read the article Water World to help the class develop a better understanding of the Maya’s connection to the caves and cenotes of Mexico’s karst landscape.

  • As a class, examine this image of cave/">cave diving. Ask students to hypothesize what might be similar or different about diving in a cave compared with other environments. Have students research diving to learn more about each and prove or disprove their theories.

  • Involve students in work like Guillermo de Anda’s with the lesson Blue Holes: Being an Explorer. In this lesson, students develop a better understanding of an exploration and all the steps required in preparing and planning for one.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Guillermo de Anda. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Guillermo de Anda shared. Ask: What role did place play in Guillermo de Anda’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions.

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Guillermo de Anda use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Guillermo de Anda talk about today? In what ways does Guillermo de Anda demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


person who studies artifacts and lifestyles of ancient cultures.


study of human history, based on material remains.


underground chamber that opens to the surface. Cave entrances can be on land or in water.


natural sinkhole or reservoir where groundwater is available.


complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.


landscape made of limestone.


people and culture native to southeastern Mexico and Central America.


epoch lasting from about 2 million years ago to 12,000 years ago.