Tahoe students learn science, adventure first-hand
North Tahoe High School science teachers redefined interactive education on an adventurous field trip to Costa Rica that offered students first-hand science lessons and an introduction to the world of traveling.
Students trekked through rainforests, climbed volcanos, soared the skies on a cable suspended 600 feet above the forest, rode horses to a waterfall and snorkeled in Costa Rica’s tropical waters.
“[It was] a chance to do stuff with the kids in a nonclass environment,” said Dan Gill, a chemistry and physics teacher at North Tahoe High School who organized the trip with Dick Lingle, the school’s biology and physiology teacher.
“The trip was related to a number of aspects of science,” said Gill.
The students visited a biology center, took guided hikes with naturalists, discussed controversial environmental issues with a banana plantation owner and studied the diverse ecosystems and habitats in Costa Rica.
“Their rainforest is dissipating because of global warming,” said Jeana Lanza, a North Tahoe senior who went on the trip.
The 10-day trip was meant to go beyond the usual science lessons, encompassing both adventure and exposure to a foreign culture.
“I just want to get them out there, show them they can travel,” said Lingle. “[It] opens them up to different cultures.”
The field trip began in the Selva Verde Rainforest where students rafted down the white-water rapids of the Sarapiqui River, visited beautiful waterfalls on horseback, and hiked through the rainforest with a naturalist who pointed out poisonous frogs, exotic trees, sloths and tropical birds.
“[We could] see every bird you could think of,” Lingle said.
From there, the students hiked within three miles of the top of Renal volcano, where they heard fiery boulders crash down the slopes of the active volcano and shatter.
At the volcano, the students donned harnesses fastened to a zipline stretching 1,500 feet across a valley, jumped off a platform and flew above the trees.
“We were going like 45 miles per hour,” said Anna Sitkoff, a North Tahoe junior.
“Probably since sky diving, that’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done,” Lingle said.
The final leg of the trip took the students to Jacho Beach and the drier forests of western Costa Rica, where they visited a butterfly farm, went sea kayaking and snorkeled.
Next year, North Tahoe science teachers are thinking of leading a student expedition to Peru to visit the Amazon Basin and the Incan ruins of Macchu Picchu.
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