Cristina Mittermeier began her career as a marine biologist but worried her research was not reaching people and inspiring them to protect the environment. So life led her on a path, back to school, to be an ethnographic photographer. Her specialty is shining a light on conservation issues, particularly where they intersect with the fate of indigenous people. Bring your students to see Cristina’s photography and hear her stories about conserving places and working with indigenous communities.

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 Cristina Mittermeier and the topics (water, conservation, environment, 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 Cristina Mittermeier’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Canada, Greenland, Hawaii, and Brazil, or use MapMaker Interactive to explore the areas where Cristina Mittermeier 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?

  • Guide students through an exploration of the photo galleries found on Cristina Mittermeier’s website to familiarize students with the work she’s done to document indigenous people and wildlife around the world. Be sure to review the images prior to use to ensure they are appropriate for your classroom. If students are unfamiliar with indigenous cultures, consider using the interactive globe mapping indigenous populations, the article Creating Social Change in the Peruvian Amazon, or the British Columbia collection included in the resource carousel to build understanding.

  • Help students develop a sense of responsibility toward the planet and effective problem-solving skills with the provided activity Protecting Biodiversity in the Amazon Rain Forest.

  • Involve students in work like Cristina Mittermeier’s with the provided activity Protect the Blue: Marine Protected Areas. After the activity, visit Cristina’s website to show students the video Sea Legacy - The Thin Blue Line featuring Cristina and other influential conservation photographers. Please view the film prior to showing it in class as it contains sensitive images some students may find distressing. Ask: How could protecting more of the ocean help populations of threatened species recover? What changes can you make in your own life to help save the ocean?

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

Arctic Ocean

one of Earth's four oceans, bordered by Asia, Europe, and North America.


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


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


having to do with the study of individual cultures and customs.


characteristic to or of a specific place.

indigenous people

ethnic group that has lived in the same region for all of their known history.


to cross paths with.

marine biologist

scientist who studies ocean life.


large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

Pacific Ocean

one of Earth's four oceans, bordered by North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and Antarctica.