Students embark to Ecuador

Dedeepya Guthikonda, freshman apprentice

“Will we ever even have to know this after high-school?” is a thought that has probably occurred to many of us while experiencing a confusing lesson or working through hours of homework. Luckily, a team of science teachers and students at Edina High School has been working to bring a new light to learning and broaden the horizons of EHS students through science. This unique approach ditches the textbooks and focuses on hands-on, science-based learning.

Mrs. Smaka, who teaches Enriched Chemistry and Physics, Mr. Burfeind, who teaches AP Environmental Science and Biology, and Mrs. Longley, who teaches Human Anatomy and Biology will lead a trip for 24 EHS students — all of whom are rising seniors–to Ecuador this summer. Whether students have a previous deep interest in science or not, the trip provides a unique opportunity for students to develop their passion for science, the environment, and global issues.

“It’s a really cool opportunity for doing actually biology research and getting a little field experience. In combination with really cool traveling it’s also testing out a field, so I can see if it is something I would be interested in,” junior member of the Ecuador team Chloe Maynor said. In Ecuador, students will embark on a completely new life experience, far from a typical trip. During the first week in the country, students will trek through the Amazon Rainforest, visiting a local village along the way. The village is hoping to set up an eco-tourism business, and EHS students will be pioneering the experience.

The second week, they will fly out to the Galapagos Islands in order to explore the different islands, scuba dive, visit the lava tube caves and see the iconic flora and fauna. In addition, students will be making new discoveries and contributing to the community and environment around them. In the Amazon Rainforest, they will be surveying different plants and animals in the habitat.

This is the third year an international science-based learning trip from EHS will take place. The first year, the destination was South Africa, and last summer was Fiji. “I found this company that takes in all of my personal passions, traveling, teaching, conservation, science and I organized that first one. It was a really great experience and I decided to continue and expand it. It’s slowly become a more meaningful experience each time,” Mrs. Smaka said

Prior to and post-trip, students will also take a semester-long class to prepare for and reflect on the trip. “I hope to expose [students] to science out of the classroom, and, get them out into nature…this is the best way for them to see their personal impact on the environment,” Smaka said. If you’re interested in science expeditions such as these, make sure to look out for upcoming trips- like the one to Indonesia- in coming years!