Categorized | Technology

NHS students travel to Costa Rica this spring

NEWBURYPORT — Several Newburyport High School students will spend their April vacation in Costa Rica, learning firsthand about sustainability and biodiversity.

Erin Hobbs, a biology teacher at the school, planned a 10-day educational trip with five other science teachers for 43 sophomores, juniors and seniors. The group will travel with Education First tours, a company the school has used for previous school trips.

This is the first time Newburyport High is hosting this science-focused trip for students. Although there is no class designed to go along with the trip, as the school did in the past with its global citizen trip to China, Hobbs said it’s her hope students will be able to see for themselves how biodiversity works in a tropical land with what they have been learning in the classroom.

“The objective is to see all of the wonders we can only see in textbooks,” Hobbs said. “The hope is that it will inspire students to preserve it.”

Students will spend 10 days traveling to San Jose, Monteverde and the Central Pacific Coast. They also will be able to visit the Poas Volcano and La Fortuna waterfall, kayak on Lake Arenal, explore the Santa Elena Cloud Forest, travel to Manuel Antonio National Park, and even visit a coffee bean plantation. A butterfly sanctuary tour, a tram ride through the rainforest canopies, and a white-water rafting trip in San Jose are additional items on the itinerary.

For six years at the school, Hobbs has been teaching biology, Advanced Placement environmental science, and aquaponics — a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by fish provide nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which purify the water in return. Science teachers are hoping that learning in the classroom comes with understanding on a multinational level.

“If we don’t know, for example, how our coffee is made and if we don’t understand all of the things that go into sustainable agriculture or sustainable farming practices or fair trade, how are you going to make an empowered decision?” Hobbs said. 

The cost of the trip is about $2,500 per person. Students have been working to earn their money to go on the trip, Hobbs said. Local business Plum Island Coffee Roasters has partnered with the school to help with fundraising.

“Students are selling coffee,” said Hobbs, who noted that, ironically, there is even a Costa Rican coffee blend available. “They have been great supporters of the school.”

The school is hoping to host several more trips like this one to have students put their knowledge to the test and to understand more about different cultures, Hobbs said. Trips would run every other year, Hobbs said, and the school’s next goal is to plan a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a destination where students can test their knowledge of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution.

“It’s basically to get them out into nature and in a tropical destination,” Hobbs said. “This firsthand exposure will hopefully instill a sense of responsibility where students are more apt to preserve it for future generations.”

Amanda Getchell covers Newburyport and Seabrook. Follow her on Twitter @ajgetch.

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