Students prepare for science trip to Costa Rica

Nandita Subbiah, Thomas Chan

Pictured above, students from last year's trip to Costa Rica observe an insect. Students are preparing for a second trip, which will have an environmental science focus. "The families were all really welcoming," said junior Mindy Lou, a student who went on the trip last year.

Next year on April 18, a group of students will head off to Arenal, Costa Rica for a week-long science-oriented trip. The trip focuses specifically on ecology and environmental science. Academic Center teacher Barbara Wolfson and science teachers Corey Lowen and Heidi Friedlander will lead the trip.

In Costa Rica, students will see the Arenal Volcano, visit an organic farm, hike through a forest and zip-line above the rainforest floor. Students last year also participated in a community service activity, helping families build and paint recycling bins. Even though this is an educational trip, students will not be given graded assignments such as homework or classwork.

Students who have participated in the trip in the past also experienced different aspects of Costa Rican culture.

“The people there live a more laid-back lifestyle,” said junior Mindy Lou, a student who went on the trip last year. “They really embrace the ‘pura vida,’ which is just loving what you do every day and living your life to the fullest, unlike the hustle and bustle here.”

Students who participate this year will stay with families in the village of Sitio de Mata for two nights and stay in ecolodges or hotels for the rest of the trip. Ecolodges are buildings that do not harm the surrounding environment.

Many of last year’s students felt a strong bond to their host families.

“The families were all really welcoming,” Lou said. “It was hard to leave because everyone was crying.”

Students who wish to participate in this year’s trip must apply by October 11. The application includes a $125 deposit. Students will also be asked to write an essay to earn one of the maximum 20 spots available. The essay prompts students to write a brief statement on why they are interested in the trip and what they hope to gain from it.

The initial estimate for the cost of the trip is $3,300. The cost covers all travel expenses including round-trip plane tickets, meals and travel insurance. The money for the trip will be submitted in two payments before the trip.

Students do not need a visa but are required to have a U.S. passport that is valid for six months after the trip. The travel time, which includes a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, is expected to be seven hours to Arenal.

Students are required to attend two meetings to go over paperwork. They will also need to attend another meeting with a parent. The dates for these meetings haven’t been determined yet. Students are not expected to be proficient in Spanish because the guides are fluent in English.

The trip is scheduled to end by April 26. However, last year, the students on the trip missed a day of school because of a delayed flight back home.