Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Costa Rica Science Trip 2018-2019 

Day 10 (the last day)
Today was our last full day in Costa Rica which began early with a boat ride out to turtle feeding grounds to catch some turtles to tag and get data from the stingrays. We took a sailboat out to the island and then snorkeled around the waters of the edge of the island. While snorkeling we saw the coral reefs and animals living there. We saw more stingrays, turtles, sea stars, sea urchins, fish, eels, sea snakes, octopus, and we caught ONE turtle. After swimming around we all watch and learned about how they tag and take data of the turtles to use for research. We rode back to the mainland for lunch which was a WHOLE fish each, It was really really tasty. Later in the afternoon, we got free time on the beach and we all played and hanged out while watching the sunset. The finale to our night was a barbecue attended by all the people of the village we stayed in.

Taking a view of the turtle on one of the boats

Some barnacles that were found on the turtle

Weighing the turtle

More pictures of the beautiful turtle

Mr. Bastos posing for a picture with the delicious food

Dinner was beautiful

Us after dinner :)

Going to Costa Rica was an amazing experience that we're all going to cherish for the rest of our lives. It was educational, fun, life-enriching and overall an unforgettable experience!

Day 9
Today was our first day in El Jobo. We all had breakfast in the home of our host families and met together to get snorkels and go to the beach. At the beach, we split into two groups. Half of us swam and attempted to catch stingrays to tag and record data. The other half learned about the efforts of the community to keep their beaches clean and participated in cleaning up the beach we were on. Both groups switched jobs and had the opportunity to do both activities. In the afternoon we went bird watching and counted the numbers to add to the communities data of the unique parrot that migrates to their islands. The last activity that day was a night walk on three beaches to attempt to see turtles nesting. We didn't catch any turtles but saw tracks and other creatures including snakes and scorpions which glowed under UV lights.

We began on El Jobo with looking for trash and snorkeling for stingrays.

Mr. Bastos found a sea urchin!

The group got ready to scout for some sting rays!

A HUGE Butterfly Stingray found by the first group!

A few more stingray catches.

The second group switching off to go look for stingrays.

Finishing off stingray collection with some measurements and data.

Starting off birdwatching with a quick presentation on the parrots in the area. 

A beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. 

We saw A LOT of parrots!

Day 8 
We completed our final presentations today.
They went very well and the teachers were very pleased with our work.

We departed after lunch and stopped in Liberia. We got a few snacks and arrived in El Jobo at around 4:00 pm. We had dinner and went to bed, excited for the next few days.

Day 7 
We worked on our research projects all day. We were analyzing the results, doing statistics and finding what happened in relation to our original hypotheses.

Ibrahim, a graduate student helped us understand gram staining in relationship to our project on the chrysalis, a larval stage of the butterfly. 

Bacterial growth plates from our project
Olivia doing statistics on her project 

We worked through the night

 It rained all day!

Day 6 - By Olivia Taiwo & Clay Sailor

Hi, Today we started out with hiking Santa Maria Mt. in a national park. We had about an hour and a half drive to get there, so we had to wake up really early.  We hiked through the rain forest and ran into many creatures. The forest was split into two sections the rain forest and the dry forest. Here are some pictures of us arriving at the forest:

 While hiking we came across obstacles such as rivers and creeks we had to cross.

 This was one of the fascinating things we found in the forest. It is known as the monkey comb because sometimes monkeys are seen combing their hair with it. FUN FACT

Swim Suits in the Rainforest? Our final destination on the hike before going back was swimming in thermal pools. Disclaimer: the water smelled strongly of sulfur.

On the way back we took a quick detour and swam at the base of a waterfall. Some of us were hesitant, but Leslie and Clay peer pressured Arianna and me (Olivia) into jumping in. it was cool and refreshing.

One of the many creatures we saw was a cool snake (an eyelash viper) who blended into the tree bark. It is white because it was molting. Actually, we almost missed it despite it being right in front of us.

We had a picnic lunch before returning, yay.

In the afternoon, we got back to our group experiments and began to finish up the experiment and prepare our final presentations.

Day 5 - By Leslie Reyes Garcia

Hello everyone! I started off my 16th birthday with horseback riding! Today was a very unique day full of smiles and trotting. We all went as a group and giggled whenever a horse would stop to eat a guava or whenever it saw a nice patch of grass. Enjoy some pictures!

 We then did some community service helping plant plants and dig a hole for a compost pile, all before lunch!

We ended the day researching the independent science projects that we're excited to present in 3 days!

We're so excited to update you on tomorrow's adventures! (and yes, it was a good *and extremely unique* birthday!) 

Day 4 - By Olivia Taiwo & Arianna Otoo 

Today we had a full day of science working with Dr. Adrian Pinto. We began with another experiment to complete our Observation period. The experiment was to determine where Escovopsis fungi were most prevalent in leafcutter ant colonies. We used the colonies we collected yesterday as samples along with the colonies that were from previous groups. We then began to develop our own ideas for group experiments. During the afternoon, we continued to develop our project proposals and took a study break, and celebrated Leslie's upcoming birthday with a delicious cake! After dinner, we gave our final presentations, and Dr. Pinto chimed in via Skype, giving useful feedback to improve our research projects.

Day 3 - By Clay Sailor

Today we went on multiple adventures. We started the amazing day with a zip lining course. Going through a total of 5 different zip lines we learned the importance of bug spray in the rain forest. We learned how to properly break and how to remain balanced.

After exploring the wonders of the tropics we learned about the importance of renewable energy. Watching a short video and seeing small models we clearly saw how  Costa Rica will achieve its goal of becoming the first country to rely on 100% of renewable energy.  They used three sources of energy solar, wind and hydro. All forms create electricity. See pictures below:


After a beautiful ride in the air-conditioned van, we embarked once again into the heat. We walked around and excavated our own ant colonies. Please look to the photos below:

Last but not least we danced the night away and cooked a wonderful meal!!!!!

Day Two-  By Leslie Reyes Garcia

We woke up bright and early to eat a breakfast of eggs, beans, and toast with marmalade. 

Afterward, we went to visit the Pulperia which is a mini bodega 1 km from where we're staying. Here's us there!

Then, we learned about the chocolate making process and the history of it. We tried multiple variations of the chocolate including pure chocolate made from Criollo cocoa, a chocolate drink (with chile, cocoa bits, warm water, and sugar) and even a Nutella imitation! 

 Chocolate drink (imitation of the Aztec's cultural drink called Chocolotl which was the origin of the word chocolate). 
 Dark chocolate with blackberry filling. 
The chocolate is made from cocoa beans that were dried and fermented and then ground up to make pure dark chocolate. The small square bars are 76% dark chocolate while the bars are 86% dark chocolate. 

We ate a delicious meal of heart of palm salad along with the main course. 
 A course on how to make palm salad. 
Us enjoying the salad with plantain chips.

Lastly, we went to look at the nearby butterfly farm managed by the Women's Association in the village. We saw the different species and got to interact with the beautiful butterflies. 
 One of the two species of butterflies, the Owl butterfly with the Morpho butterfly being the other. 
 An owl butterfly on Leslie's shoulder.
Chrysalises of the butterflies.  
Owl butterfly caterpillars.
Enjoy this beautiful video of the Morpho butterfly!

We're excited about tomorrow's adventures! Stay tuned for more. 

Day 1

We are getting excited to do actual research in Costa Rica!

We have arrived! After a long plane ride, we stopped for an authentic Costa Rican meal at Piso'E Tierra
The restaurant specialized in a meal called the Casada, a traditional dish.

On our ride to our new home, we saw The volcano Miravalles
So beautiful

Then we arrived at the Research Center called Finca La Anita Colonia Libertad

We settled into our rooms and went to dinner. We had some amazing pineapple juice, fresh fish with garlic and cilantro, carrots, and beans ending with a lovely Budin desert. We had a group meeting to learn about our day tomorrow.  

Seeds of Change Science Field Biology Immersion Program based in Finca La Anita Rainforest Ranch

Chaperones: Javier Bastos and Kathleen Caslow, Science teachers from Episcopal High School

Student scientists preparing for the trip

Preparing for the trip by working on the pre-trip modules:
1. Experimental process
2. Data Collection and Analysis
3. Statistical Analysis and Sample size
4. Leafcutter Ants
Read the book: The Leafcutter Ants, by E.O. Wilson and Hollodobler

We participated in research in the lab focusing on bacteria and performing a handwashing experiment

bacteria growing on an agar plate:
Quadrant 1 - (+ control, do not wash hands)
Quadrant 2 - (1 min no soap)
Quadrant 3 - (1 min soap)
Quadrant 4 - (4 min. soap)