Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Put a 'Journey' in Your Curriculum

jour·ney   [jur-nee]
1. (dictionary.com) a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; trip
2. (Teton Science School) a direct experience in the ecological or cultural environment that serves as an essential part of learning

With the name "Teton Science School" you might be wondering how it is different from any other school (aside from an extra science class or two) and what it has to do with a "journey."

To better understand the connection, it helps to know a few things. First, four of the subjects emphasized in the high school curriculum are Science - obviously - Physical Education, "Journeys", and Spanish. Secondly, through all classes, teachers incorporate both content and skill. The mission statement, in fact, is "Connecting People, Nature, Place and Education through Six Innovative Programs in One Amazing Place." One of these "innovative programs" is the Journeys School, the Pre-K to 12th grade branch of Teton Science Schools. Finally, in setting up the school this way, the goal is to combine innovative content with the traditional disciplines in order to "develop the wisdom to make educated decisions while maintaining a unique perspective of the world."

Journeys School does what it can to integrate learning with ecology, culture and the community wherever possible.

Therefore, it only makes sense that they would organize a special course for their students with Costa Rica Outward Bound to learn by immersing themselves in this dynamic environment. Costa Rica does, afterall, contain 5% of the world's biodiversity even though it is only about 0.25% of the world's landmass! Around 25% of the country's land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, which is the largest percentage of protected areas in the world.

And to lead them through it are two of our Tico (Costa Rican) staff members, Mauren and Rodolfo. Let's meet them:

Rodolfo Vargas
Hometown: San Jose, Costa Rica
About: Due to his role as a biologist (and the Owner) at Refugio Herpetologico de Costa Rica since January 2002, it only makes sense that he help lead a science-based course. He maintains a collection of 30 species of reptiles and amphibians and investigates at-risk animal populations in Costa Rica.

Mauren Granados

Hometown: Piedras Blancas, Costa Rica
About: Mauren is one of our toughest female instructors. She is known as "Mau" by her friends, and she got married last year to another adventure guide. One of her surprising passions includes watching free-style motocross. When she's not instructing courses, she enjoys playing soccer with locals in her town.
Read More: official site staff description

This week, the students of Journeys School have already been hiking in the depths of the rainforest through Las Rejas, Cruce Tonito, Rancho Tinamu, and Londres. They have learned about birds, ecology & diversity, insects, and water analysis at Rodolfo's refuge. And finally, they will zip-line in the rainforest's upper canopy on Saturday before flying home on Sunday.

Learning can be rough.

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