Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Two Tyner Middle Academy teachers are taking the gym by storm, working out to prep for the 10-mile daily hikes they will take in Costa Rica beginning the end of June.
Sixth-grade math teacher Lonna Henriquez, of East Brainerd, and eighth-grade science teacher Lora Aycock, of Tyner, are preparing for a biodiversity conservation and research mission they will document by film for a schoolwide unit of study next year.
“We chose Costa Rica because we are inspired by their conservation efforts,” said Henriquez, whose father is a native of Costa Rica. “We are also inspired by think global, act local, and that’s what we will do.”
Taking on terrain many people would not venture to explore, the two educators will hike to the Irazú Volcano, visit an animal rescue and relocation center and lastly make their way to the Osa Peninsula to work in the Osa Biodiversity Center.
Aycock said the idea is to give real-life application to their math and science students next year. Just as the interactive lesson plan will bring learning alive for their students upon their return, Henriquez said an integral part of the adventure for her and Aycock is going out into the field to learn hands-on.
“We will pull on our rain boots, slog through rainforests to track monkeys and macaws and observe with our own eyes, ears and minds biodiverse nature preserves,” the teachers said in their project proposal. “From our documented research, students will see their teacher standing on a windy beach in the middle of the night with a red lens light, counting sea turtles as they pull their bodies out of the ocean, scrape along the sand and dig their nests. This will inspire our students to understand the connection between biodiversity research and conservation.”
Henriquez’s husband Gerald Linderman is going on the trek to film her and her colleague’s three-week educational exploration. The documentary will pose questions such as “How does the volcano affect biodiversity?” while the terrain in Costa Rica surrounds the two teachers.
The educator duo will collect data on animal rescues and releases back into the wild by tagging monkeys and macaws. The ladies will dive into the Sea Turtle Conservation Program, measuring and tracking sea turtles with Osa Biodiversity Center. They will also plant trees as part of rainforest restoration efforts.
While gathering population data on monkeys and scarlet macaws, Henriquez and Aycock may encounter interesting wildlife. For example, a jaguar, sloth, cheetah, boa constrictor, poison dart frog or a poisonous snake may be lurking nearby.
“We will work with researchers to tread softly on the animals’ world to learn what they have to tell us,” said Henriquez, adding that she spent a few months in northern Costa Rica learning Spanish growing up. “I will translate in Spanish on the trip.”
When they return, the two will host a math and science night with Costa Rican flair at Tyner Middle Academy.