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Future scientists study ants in Costa Rica

Students study leafcutter ants in Costa Rica.

Sara Falkofske

Students study leafcutter ants in Costa Rica.

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The Seeds of Change Inc. is yet again funding an opportunity for students to spark their inner scientist by going on a trip to Liberia, Costa Rica where they will stay in one of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world. With only a select few students, they study leafcutter ants and are trying to figure out how the species is surviving without anything from the outside contaminating them.

Students leave every summer around the beginning of August or the end of July and stay for 10 days. During the last two days, they go to a National Research Center called Horizontes to study sea turtles.

Half of each day is dedicated to studying science, while the other half is filled with fun activities such as zip lining, horseback riding, and swimming at the beach.

“My favorite part was going to the beach and just swimming in the ocean,” Gavin Ducklow (10) said.

The kids also go to a local village and helped them out by doing community work and helping them with their chores, as they are not as advanced as other countries and they get to experience what life is like for them.

Because of this trip, over half of the students have decided to lead a science based career in their lives, according to science teacher Sara Falkofske.

“More than half – probably 60 percent of them go into science for college,” Falkofske said.  Two members of the trip, according to Falkofske, have decided to go into science-based careers because of this trip. This trip is intended to help increase the percentage of students who pursue careers in science and engineering.

Students enjoy how the educational opportunities are not like a typical science class.

“I like how it was not like a paper or a worksheet; it was hands-on experiments,” Ducklow said. Students learn about and use many types of equipment such as microscopes, different types of chemicals, and places to put the ants and leaves in. In addition, they have lots of time to study the rainforest and take notes on the ants.

But it wasn’t just the ants that they studied; they also experience the culture of the people who live there. “It was amazing to be in a different culture and then experience to be in a lab and just experiencing the rainforest,” Kaelyn Cruikshank (10) said.

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