Naturally Curious Education
Today is the last day on our journey. We did a brief study on Acacia trees, followed by a good amount of free time. We then went to the beach, where we did everything from play in the water to interacting with the local hermit crabs to taking a nap. We ended the day with a nice meal and began saying our farewells. Though this was not a very full day, it was full of emotion as we said goodbye to the friends we made on this adventure. We hope to stay in contact with some of them, and will never forget this amazing experience.
The final moments
By Cody Roemen and Séamus Blake
Today we left Finca La Anita for a place called Horizontes. On the way we stopped at a supermarket in Liberia. They had quite the assortment of candy and such. About 45 minuets later we arrived at Horizontes.
When we got there it was hot, fortunately lunch was already waiting, after that we got a lecture about the 2nd year program on bioinformatics. Next on our agenda was to play some soccer, or "sports ball" as many people called it, there was also a watch tower that you could climb up and get spectacular views. Even though we were in the dry forest, it rained almost all afternoon. When everyone was done with soccer, we headed over to the classroom for another lecture, but this time it was to brief us on sea turtles. Then we got more free time until diner (witch was delicious), and now we are waiting to go to the beach and hopefully find some turtles.
All the students here gave amazing presentations today! Everyone worked very hard on their research and took their projects very seriously. I'm incredibly proud of all of them. I had a beaming face all morning long listening to their presentations.
Dr. Adrian Pinto is an incredible instructor and he is encouraging all of the students to use him as a reference for college, employment, internships, etc. He told me that he is very impressed with our group. I can't thank him and his graduate students Allen and Silver enough for their amazing work these students.
Breakfast was exciting today because we had pancakes instead of rice and beans! After breakfast, we had a little time to edit and practice our presentations. Then, at 10, it was go time. We started presenting. Each presentation was about 10-15 minutes, and since my group had to go 5th, we had to wait about and hour to present.
Ruby and Michael's group- Let's Get This Pan! (pH Preferences of Leaf Foraging Ants)
Gannon and Cody's group- Purple Rain (The Culinary Preferences of the Atta Genera)
Seamus and my group- natureSCAN (Interactions of Intercolonial Leafcutter Ants)
Each presentation went very well and everyone had a successful experiment!
Lunch was super delicious because we had lasagna and plantain chips, as well as juice. Later on, we departed for the Cockroach river. The river was very beautiful and refreshing!
For dinner, we had a taco bar. Since it was Keana's (a girl from Tabor) birthday, we got to have cake and hot chocolate for dessert!
Tomorrow morning, we will depart for Horizontes.
P.S. Love and miss you mom and dad!
Sincerely and dearly,
Hey families and friends! It's Ruby again!
We started out the day with the basic breakfast of rice and beans and eggs. Right after breakfast, we got straight to work. Dr. Adrian Pinto (Ant Man) did a run down of the day with everyone. He also explained what some of our options are for the future in relation to this science experience.
Then we went off to do our work. My group, Let's Get This PAN, finished our field work. One other person (his name is Carson) and I went out in the "Field Taxi" with Allan (one of Adrian's masters students), Lauren, and Ms. M. H. (The Verona teacher) to some leaf-cutter ant colony foraging trails.
Every one else worked in the class room and on the deck at La Anita.
The above picture is of an Atta leaf-cutter queen with small minima Atta caring for her. The group with this experiment is Nature SCAN (Seamus and Nora are in this group).
For lunch, we had a traditional local meal. It had liquefied re-fried beans with a local salsa in it, rice with chicken, and squashed, fried plantain. It was everyone's favorite.
The above picture is of Adrian holding two petri dishes for fungi. The one on the left has fungus from the bottom of a fungus garden and the right is from the top. The bottom one is over grown with a parasitic fungus and the other is not. This is the ant's antibiotics at work. The leaves that the ants collect are treated with the antibiotic and placed on top. This is why there is a higher concentration of the parasite on the bottom.
We concluded this experiment in the afternoon. The rest of the time was used to collect and analyse data for our main experiments. We have to be ready for tomorrow morning when we present our findings to everyone.
We took a coffee break at 3:45 with cake and coffee. It was a good time for my group to rest our eyes after counting individual square millimeters for an hour or more before. We were finding the surface area of the leaves that were collected by ants in the field.
After dinner, the dessert was flan which meant Michael and I could eat it. The gluten free desserts have been very good. But it was really nice to have this one. It was the best flan I have ever had.
Tonight, we are going to finish and practice our presentations. We will try it out on either Adrian, Allan, or Silver (the butterfly masters student). My group claimed Allan. He has been a great help to us and he's a really nice guy. Some of the groups are going to practice tomorrow morning before the presentation seminar starts.
To be continued... ;)
Today we got an early start, 5:15 to be exact. Breakfast was at 6:00, then at 6:30 it was off to the national park. As you can see below there was a lot of foot travel. The waterfall was really really cold. (Everyone was VERY tired at the end of the hike.)
On the way back from the park our van got a flat tire, so we waited by the side of the road until the other van came to pick us up.
After we got back, it was time for science. The first thing our group was to dilute the base we had to get the correct pH. When we were done with that, I (Michael) painted the leaves with water, vinegar, and NaOH (a strong base). Then, Carson and Ruby went out into the field to start our experiment. Meanwhile, Jamie and I worked on the lab notebook and presentation.
When they returned with their data, we needed to analyse it, and how we had to do that was by counting millimeter squares. I alone counted nearly 2000 of them.
Finally I sat down to write this blog. The End. (of this day at least)
Lauren here - some of the groups went out into the field today to collect data. Seamus and Nora's group started observing ant behavior for their project. Many groups continued working after 8pm this evening. Tomorrow - more science!!
This blog post is brought to you by Gannon and Michael (and a little bit by Lauren).
Today was a full day for everyone but especially for the students. Currently, some are still working on setting up their research projects with their groups and it is after 9pm! Dedicated scientists!! So tonight I am taking over the blog.
The morning started off with horseback riding and community service. The community service was in town at the butterfly house called the Mariposario. Mariposa is the word for butterfly! The local women have begun raising blue morphos and owl eye butterflies as well as monarchs and they need some help weeding, planting, building and composting. Our students jumped right in to help!
And then the horseback riding! We got to climb up into the mountains on horseback and get a lovely view of the surrounding area. We were told that on a clear day we could see all the way to Lake Nicaragua.
The afternoon was all about starting their research projects. They were given their lab notebooks and then they were off and running!!
Dinner... I've noticed all the students have blogged about the food. So I will too! We had a cooking class and the students made dinner together! It was delicious!!!
Wait! There's more!!!
We were treated to a light trap! Light traps are used to attract insects that are active at night. Costa Rica has an abundance of insects as you can imagine. Very cool to see.
And now, everyone is finishing up work on their research projects and heading to bed as we have an early start tomorrow morning to visit a national park for a hike to waterfalls and thermal pools. I'm tired and I haven't been working on the intense science projects like they have been! So at this late hour, we are all heading to bed for another jam packed day tomorrow!!
Science. That was the entirety of today. To begin, we sampled different locations of the fungus Escovopsis. We then ate a delicious lunch of fresh burgers. We then continued science by working with our groups to come up with our experiment for the final project. Then, we ate an absolutely scrumptious dinner of fish of some sort. (I don't know what kind, I'm here to study ants not fish thank you very much.) Then, science. We presented our initial presentations on what we are doing for the final project. (During which time Mr. Cody Roemen pet a very nice doggo.) That is all. Good bye. Since this is so short, we left additional entertainment below the image.
By Cody Roemen and Séamus Blake
To start off day 2, we woke up bright and early to have a nice breakfast. We were served rice, beans, cantaloupe, watermelon, eggs with ham, and of course juice. After breakfast, we went to our first early morning science meeting. Then, we started on a search for leaf cutter ants and their fungus garden. My group, natureSCAN, found a very large fungus garden and we were even able to locate and capture the queen.
To retrieve the fungus garden safely, we had to follow a process:
Dig a hole near the top of the ant hill to find the tunnel that leads to the fungus garden.
Locate the fungus garden.
Then, you have to carefully dig around the garden to make room for a spoon to fit.
Once the hole is big enough, you scoop the garden into a container and seal the lid.
At noon, we ate my favorite meal here yet... spaghetti! We met after lunch to get ready to go zip-lining! That was definitely my favorite part of the day.
We got to go see butterflies and caterpillars after zip-lining! The butterflies were absolutely gorgeous!
It was also fun to learn about a butterfly's life cycle.
On the way back to Finca la Anita, we visited a cute shop. There was candy, pop, ice cream, and some general groceries.
Dinner was very delicious! We had pork with vegetables and juice. To finish off the day, we did more science. First, we counted the bacteria in our petri dishes. Then, we analyzed stats with the numbers of the bacteria. Finally, we gave the ants and our fungus gardens and new home in a bigger container.
Hi friends! It's Ruby. We had great day today! My head is buzzing with a ton of information.
We started out the day by doing a get to know you game that Cindy described like Speed Dating.
After that we got some free time. A small group of us decided to do some exploring. After that most of us played cards in the classroom. I partook in a game of giant B. S. which we decided stood for Bug Spray on this trip. We used Cody's giant cards.
Next was the chocolate tour. We are on a cacao farm so we got to see all of the different stages of chocolate making and taste them all! In the picture above, we are tasting some pure and spicy hot chocolate that originated in Mexico. It had blended cacao and water, local vanilla, local sugar, and some cayenne pepper.
These are cacao nibs that we broke out of roasted cacao beans. The fat in them smells like a good chocolate.
Pablo (the man leaning over the beans) owns the farm. He gave the tour. The two in the last picture work here and are getting the beans out of the fruit.
Pablo let us taste the sweet sugary coating on the outside of the beans in the fruit. It has a mango-like taste.
We got to try some of the purest and best chocolate in the world. Pablo prides himself on the quality of his product. It was incredible.
Pablo used a machete to cut us some fresh heart of palm for a salad. He put the hearts, olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, cilantro, some liquid curry (in the green bottle closer to the camera), onion, bell pepper, tomato, and vinegar.
After lunch and before our first intro to the science part of the trip, I got to spend some time with the farm dogs. There are three of them. The black and white one is Fico (I'm pretty sure that's how you spell it) and the white an tan one is Dr. Bombay. The one that is not pictured here is Aretha Franklin, the puppy. If you see her in later pictures, she's black.
Dr. Adrian Pinto and Allen (a graduate student of Pinto's) gave us an intro to the science. It was mostly what we learned in preparation for this trip. The are both very nice.
We got to go through the scientific method with our groups (the groups are random and consist of three to four students) with the general question, "Where are bacteria most abundant on the farm?" My group focused on the water. There is a large variety of different hypothesis and predictions so the results should be very interesting.
After dinner we went on a night hike. The ant that Allen is holding is a leaf cutter. Great ending to a great day!
P. S. Love you family!