Mireya Mayor explores some of the most remote places on Earth, searching for species that we know little about. Sometimes she even finds creatures unknown to science! Armed with little more than a backpack, notebooks, and hiking boots, she’s survived poisonous insect bites, been charged by gorillas and chased by elephants—and she keeps going back for more.

Join Mireya as she gives students a behind-the-scenes look at life in the field and the moments of discovery that make the hardships worthwhile.

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 Mireya Mayor and the topics (wildlife, adventure, science, geography) that she 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 Mireya Mayor’s biography using the link in the Explore More tab.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Africa and Madagascar, or use MapMaker Interactive to explore the areas where Mireya works.

  • Have students read the conservation encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different kinds of conservation techniques. After reading, ask: How are different types of conservation connected to one another? Can conservation have positive and negative consequences for different stakeholders?

  • Ask students to read the rain forest encyclopedic entry and the article Monkey Day to help them build background knowledge on the ecosystem and primates prior to hearing Mireya speak.

  • Watch a video or two from the media section of Mireya Mayor’s website to familiarize students with the work she’s done, new species she’s discovered, and what life is like as an explorer. Ask: What are some of the key attitudes and skills an explorer possess? What traits do they need to be good at their job?

  • Empower students to take action with the activity Protecting Earth’s Wildlife. If time allows, consider modifying it to have students research one of the species Mireya studies, such as the threatened pygmy mouse lemur.

  • Involve students in work like Mireya’s with the Conduct a Micro-Expedition activity.

  • 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 Mireya Mayor. 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 Mireya Mayor shared. Ask: What role did place play in Mireya Mayor’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 Mireya Mayor 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 Mireya Mayor talk about today? In what ways does Mireya Mayor 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?


large, intelligent primate with no tail.


management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.


large mammal with a long trunk, native to Africa and Asia.


to give authority or power.


organism threatened with extinction.


environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.


type of animal that breathes air and has a body divided into three segments, with six legs and usually wings.


type of small mammal (primate).


mammal considered to be highly intelligent, with four limbs and, usually, a tail.

mountain gorilla

mammal (primate) native to Africa.


toxic or containing dangerous chemicals.


type of mammal, including humans, apes, and monkeys.


area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.


group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

threatened species

organism that may soon become endangered.