This program is often combined with our "Foldscope" activities to add a more dynamic approach to measuring the health of an ecosystem through both chemical testing and micro-invertebrate surveys. 
In remote regions of Panama, where no infrastructure exists, the river-ways, are the principle mode of transportation. This brings both access to the modern world but also a strain on the ecosystem by point and non-point source pollution.

Our "Water Guardian" activities focus on the remote region of Donoso Colon/Coclé along the rivers San Juan de Turbe and Coclé del Norte. We visit schools, from Coclesito all the way down to the Caribbean coastline, to teach concepts in ecology & conservation to 5th grade public school students.

The main goal of this program is to bring hands on experience and activities to public school students that corresponds to the national curriculum at the same time solving a localized water quality problem through community support and action. 


Our activities for both public schools and communities cover a wide variety of topics such as: Introduction to the telescope (theory and use), computerized astronomy, moon mapping, documenting meteor showers, tracking celestial bodies, identification of constellations, and astronomical mathematics.
Melva Olmos is a dedicated scientist and proud Panamanian. Melva is one of VERY FEW woman field scientists in Panama!

Melva's passion to mentor and bring young budding female scientists to the forefront of the Panamanian research community is unparalleled.   

We have a made a enormous effort to bring programs, experience and equipment to Panama's remote/rural poor female students.

Education Highlights

Environmental Science

Foldscopes, microscopy & microbiology


Remote communities throughout Panama have little or no exposure to up-to-date knowledge about biodiversity, conservation or the ecosystem they live in. Additionally, learned concepts in the public-school system in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics are basic and often outdated. Over the last several years, Conservaciòn Panamà in alliance with donors, have developed and executed a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-based learning program including hands-on activities for students in the public-school system at the 5th grade level to experience STEM, receive hands-on training and be more knowledgeable citizen scientists in their community to further the goals of land stewardship and conservation.

Sphero BOLT is a consumer electronic programmable robot with an 8x8 customizable LED display, multiple onboard advanced sensors that utilize infrared communication with smart-phones, tablets and other robots, that can both ambulate and swim. Using a simplified type of java script language called “Scratch™ blocks” makes this robot easy to setup, program and perform a variety of actions and interactions with their environment and with other robots. The Sphero basic course covers an introduction to the technology, how to use it, the ecology of jaguars and their prey and themes (via gaming) focusing on ecological interactions, the human dominated landscape, conservation, land stewardship and ethics.

Combining bilingual themes in robotics, math and science, students are split into two groups: jaguar or jaguar prey (e.g. peccary). Each group will study the ecological and environmental needs of their animal to survive and thrive, utilize this knowledge using Scratch™ block and program behaviors into a robot. Each group is tasked with specific goals which they must complete to succeed to win the game. The “jaguar team” must find and depredate its natural prey while avoiding farms, farm animals and human populated areas. The “prey team” must elude the hunting jaguar, find its natural food source and also avoid farms, farm animals and human populated areas. The game itself requires a variety of skills the students learn throughout the activity. Skills required include: measurement of distance & time, calculation of velocity, measurement of geometric shapes and angles, measurement of azimuth, basic robotic programming (speed, distance and direction), programming robotic “behavior” (e.g. movements, controls, & basic lights), basic mathematics (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), basic descriptive statistics (mean, mode, minimum & maximum), knowledge of animal ecology & behavior, and teamwork (working in groups of three). 

Learn more about the SPHERO COMMUNITY or how you can HELP US raise money and bring this program to more schools in Panama.

ASTRONOMY: Adventures in the Cosmos

The major barriers we are trying to overcome with this confidence boosting program are: Poverty, patriarchy, family influence, access to education, and lack of governmental services. 

Moon Photography from Coclesito, Colón

Learning about our place in the cosmos is integral to our understanding of our place on Earth. What a better place than remote areas of Panama to explore the moon and the stars! The Donoso region of Coclé and Colon (seen below) have virtually no light pollution. This makes viewing the night sky an exciting activity for students and communities.


Our #NiñasEnCTIM or #GirlsInSTEM program was the brainchild of Melva. Our goals are to: Cultivate curiosity, knowledge in the scientific method, familiarity with microscopes, knowledge of conservation, empower and build confidence in these young women.


Students are given the opportunity to take responsibility for monitoring and testing a section of river throughout the year. All data are tabulated, analyzed and summarized as a final capstone project. Students, through directed learning, are given opportunities to identify point-source pollution, non-point source pollution and the possible effects on their riverine ecosystem. Additionally, students are given the opportunity to create simple management actions to better manage the ecosystem they live in.



Girls in STEM

SPHERO: Robotics & Conservation

STEM Technology for remote communities


Pilot Project 2020 Results:


Each classroom that participates receives a River Monitoring Kit by LaMotte that includes all the testing materials for a 1-year monitoring program. These kits include tests for: pH, dissolved oxygen, BOD, Nitrate, Phosphate, Temperature, Turbidity and human fecal coliform.  
For over 7 years our organization has been bringing science and environmental education to remote communities in Panama. Where many schools have little or no access to modern scientific equipment or knowledge we fill in the gaps with practical experience and scientific equipment. Our goal is to influence and encourage Panama's future scientific minds.


 In communities that have little or no infrastructure the idea of a microscope lab in school is unheard of. The world of microbiology only a myth. The lack of electricity alone with the harsh tropical environment and the expense of the equipment has made this largely an impossible feat to attain UNTIL NOW!

Foldscopes are an oragami microscope made of water resistant paper that can magnify up to x144. The total cost of one microscope is about $1 to manufacture and roughly $5 delivered to us here in Panamá.

Utilizing micropscopy and the microcosmos our education team teaches students the basic tenents of science, the "scientific method", design a mini science experiment and present results. This is geared to encourage curiosity and experience in the sciences. 

Our Foldscope program to date has visited more than 20 schools and given away more than 1000 Foldscopes to students and teachers!


Water Guardian: Water  monitoring

Our pilot project visited 10-sites along the rivers San Juan de Turbe and Coclé del Norte in Coclé and Colón Provinces. We identified areas of concern that were not significant due to the minimal number of tests performed. In 2021 we are maximizing the number of tests and locations to increase significance.  

The basic program costs approximately $7,041.75 per 250 students for 6 days of classroom and after-school programming. The cost includes travel (to remote areas), equipment, educational materials, personnel and overhead. If you are interested in learning more about this program please contact Melva: