First-YearProgram

CRSRP will consist of the following:
  1. The student group from the high school will consist of 16 students and two teachers. The teachers will be responsible for conducting six lecture series during the school year prior to the summer break. Typically these sessions will be held once per month.

  2. The classroom lectures delivered by the high school teachers will prepare the students for their experience in Costa Rica. Seeds of Change (SOC) will provide a guide curriculum to the teachers but the selection of subject matter will be done jointly by SOC and the high school teachers. 

  3. SOC will work with the teachers and will arrange for between three and five classroom remote lectures during the preparation classes. These remote lectures will be delivered by, Dr. Cameron Currie at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Adrian Pinto at the University of Costa Rica and from other evolutionary microbiology researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

  4. SOC will provide the scientists to lead the program at our research sites in Costa Rica.

  5. SOC will make all trip arrangements and will provide coordination of the group once the group is on the ground in Costa Rica. Transportation, lodging, food, airfares, cross cultural experiences are all provided by SOC. The accompanying teachers will be responsible for coordinating and leading the actual travel of the group of students to and from Costa Rica. 

  6. All trips will be during the summer months leaving your local airport early in the morning of your day of departure and arriving at the research site on the slopes of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano deep in the Costa Rica rainforest the early evening of the same day. Once on site students will receive an orientation on the layout of the site, lodging assignments, meal schedules, safety procedures, introductions to researchers, site staff and villagers associated with the groups work. A first important briefing will introduce the students to the activities associated with the site, the ecological environment of the area, the various crops cultivated on site(chocolate/macadamia/taro/passion fruit/pineapple/ papaya/hearts of palm/bananas/cardamom/vegetables/ tropical flowers). Science briefings on leaf cutter any biology will commence on the first day of science work. The emphasis will be to insure that all students have an adequate level of understanding of the microbiology of the fungus garden and the ant colony. As quickly as possible the students will be broken into research teams. These teams will develop their own projects, with their own goals, with their respective protocols. Some of these projects may involve research sites deep in the forest, some will be laboratory based, some will involve a midnight journey to remote colonies, etc. These experiments will all be guided by Dr. Pinto and his grad students, but creativity and knowledge pursued will be the results of students establishing their own goals. Research is very much a collaborative effort and as such, research teams will be formed by students so that each team is working together on a different aspect of leaf cutter ant research. Upon completion of the research projects each research team will present their findings to the whole group the final night at Finca La Anita. These activities are all important to the core curriculum of this program.

  7. There will be various off site experiences included in the activities while the students are immersed in this research environment. These may include zip line activities on the slopes of the Miravalles Volcano, Cloud Forest hikes through Virgin forests into thermal waters on the slopes of the Rincon De La Vieja Volcano, horseback treks on the slopes of the Santa Maria volcano into remote waterfalls or to observation points on the slopes of the volcano. Or this time may be allocated to service projects to help the people of the villages in this sparsely populated area well away from modern conveniences, and direct exposure to local families so that students will clearly grasp the cultural differences embodied by these poor villagers. Each off site trip is unique and the off site experiences will be planned between SOC and the high school teachers.

  8. For the first eight days of this trip, the research activities are focused in the premontian wet tropical rainforest on the north slope of the Rincon Volcano where we spend the main science of the trip, the Attas Cepalotes leaf cutter ants.

    On the eighth day of the trip, we move to a new research station in the hot, tropical dry rainforest on the Nicoya Peninsula where the new micro-climate supports a whole new range of biology. Here, we will expose the students to a research project on Eastern Pacific Rim Black Sea Turtles being undertaken by Dr. Bibi Santidrian of Drexel University. Students will learn the general plight of sea turtles today and in particular the research project being set up to learn about this particular turtle. Students will participate in beach patrols to intercept incoming female nesting turtles to gather data and tag them for on-going study.

    This gives students exposure to a remote virgin beach untouched by human development or tourism and will provide some relaxing “beach time” as a break from 10 days of intensive science. In addition as a final exercise of the trip, the students will have encounters with primates and will serve as a test bed for a project giving students exposure to collaborative creative thinking.

  9. At the conclusion of the trip the school system must agree to host a presentation by the students during an evening session in which science students and their parents in the school system will be invited. The SOC staff member and participating teachers will be responsible for coordinating this presentation. Each research team will be responsible for presenting the results of its research during this program.
Second-YearProgram

Should the school elect to make this trip an annual program, it is the intent of Seeds of Change to invite alumni from the previous year to apply to become the Student Science team leaders for that year’s trip. The students will have the responsibility to perform a research task that is more complex than the first-year students AND the students would have the responsibility of assisting the teachers and embedding themselves into research teams, so as to elevate the quality of research being undertaken by the teams.

​​All or most costs for team leader students will be paid by SOC, but in return they must write a full report on the results of their experiment. Students will also present the results of their experiment at the general presentation given for parents at the trip conclusion. The decision to continue with these trips on an annual basis and to have returning students a second year will be made by the high school, following the assessment of the trip results the first year.

​​Also, as part of the plan to make this an annual program for the high school, SOC will work with the school and the local rotary club to develop funding to establish a leaf cutter ant display in the school, which can be used to enhance science learning in a variety of subjects and used to interest younger science students. Second-year students would assume responsibility as curators of the ant display. This becomes a general learning tool for the high school and a basis for more complex second-year students' research projects.

It is anticipated that this program will be budget neutral for the school system. Funding for each high schools program will come from student tuition, fundraising by the students, and scholarships awarded to students on a case-by-case basis.

The first-year research experience will focus on exposing the students to the realities of doing rainforest research so that upon completing the program each student has a real world understanding of the challenges and rewards of this type of science and hopefully motivation to pursue bio science as a career possibility. Second-year students will engage in a more focused research effort to actually produce meaningful data from their project. To this end the research project for second year students will be developed in partnership with SOC, Dr. Pinto and his associates.

​​Each subsequent year that the high school participates in this program will result in more directed research being undertaken by the students. This will be possible as there is more critical mass of understanding of the research possibilities achievable by the students and there is a higher level of preparation in the pre trip lecture sessions given by the teachers affiliated with the program in each high school.

The students participating in this program will be tracked over the next ten years to monitor professional outcomes which might stem from this activity. The overall objective of this program is to encourage more science majors in our universities.

A Minnesota 501c3 non-profit corporation with a mission of enhancing bioscience education for high school students and creating more science-related careers.
Exposing High School science students to tropical rainforest research in partnership with:
  • The Currie Lab - University of Wisconsin
  • Biochemistry Dept.: School of Medicine at University of Costa Rica
  • Your Community Rotary
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​of SECONDARY SCIENCE EDUCATION
CHANGING the LANDSCAPE
A Minnesota 501c3 non-profit corporation with a mission of enhancing bioscience education for high school students and creating more science-related careers.
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