Plate tectonics come alive for students when they see an active volcano

EcoTeach trip leaders share how student travel enriches their students’ lives.

Five minutes of listening to the news tells us that the world is now a global community. As such, the curriculum at our school, St. Paul’s School for Girls in Maryland, reflects a multi-cultural curriculum. Traveling with EcoTeach to Costa Rica provided the perfect hands-on activity to enhance the more traditional classroom experience.

During the middle-school years, our students study life science and earth science. In the classroom, the students have studied the biology of ecosystems, the development of evolution, and the notion of endangered species.

We often speak of an animal as being endangered, however, it has little meaning until one meets up with an endangered turtle personally. Our students were able to learn about the sea turtles from instructors who were knowledgeable and passionate about saving the turtles. Collecting and safeguarding the eggs of leatherback sea turtles provided an experience that will activate a lifelong commitment to preservation. What better way to make plate tectonics come alive than to see a mountain range on a convergent boundary and to climb an active volcano.

Visiting and learning about a variety of cultures is critical as our world becomes smaller. Visiting the BriBri indigenous community enabled the girls to respect the wisdom and lifestyle choices of people who have rejected the fast-paced, modern life with which they are so familiar. This knowledge will last the girls a lifetime.

During the EcoTeach adventure, each girl was challenged to grow and learn. Each developed a new sense of self and bonded with others in the group. They returned from Costa Rica enriched by their experiences.

Contributed by Lauren Davis & Margaret Green, Trip Leaders, St. Paul’s School for Girls 2011 Costa Rica expedition