Last year's trip to Costa Rica showed us that education can, and should, be a life-altering experience. This year, a largely new group of students, have decided to learn about and travel to Puerto Rico. With this new topic and destination in mind, we have developed a year-long interdisciplinary class that is based on the same three core principles:

1) Travel to expand students' horizons
2) An explicit connection between the classroom and real world
3) The use of sweat equity for students to see that their efforts can make a difference

During the early fall, the curriculum was largely focused on developing the 21st Century Skills of problem solving, critical thinking, decision-making, and collaboration. This was initially done using group challenges in the classroom, but then became vitally important once we started raking lawns. In addition to being our major fundraiser, this hard work put students in positions that required group problem solving, as well as perseverance and responsibility – traits that we all know are central to changing the trajectory of their lives.

During the winter and spring, each student will be developing an independent research project on a chosen aspect of Puerto Rico.
We hope that you will keep checking back as we share our learning, growth and adventures.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

this is my project and it is every thing i learned about caves like whats inside them what lives in them and and how they are made

Monday, June 11, 2012


We did a lot on the trip this year. We did things I would never have experienced if it wasn't for this class. We went zip-lining, caving, cave tubing, horseback riding, hiking, to the old forts, to the Indian reservation, and kayaking through the biolumessent bay. These are things that I will never forget and probably never experience again in my life. When we went I didn't think it was going to be anything like what it was. When we started the tours on Monday I thought it was going to be boring. But I was proved wrong I had the best time of my life. My favorite part was probably the cave tubing because that's what my projects on is caves not only did we get to walk over the cave but we got to go inside the cave and look up as we were paddling through the like mile long cave. I would reccomend if anyone who reads this goes to Puerto Rico in their lives make sure you do every thing you can do down there. Make sure to stay with the tour guides, that is how you will have the most fun. our guide was amazing I am very glad we got to meet him he helped us soooooo much. Not only with the driving around part he helped us with food because everything was in Spanish. He would read the menu to us and translate it into English. He also took care of all of our needs and didn't say anything bad. We all had fun but out of everyone I think I had the most fun. I would like to thank our teachers for making this possible for us.
Hello world...... I had a great trip to Puerto Rico this year. this year I learned a lot about my self and others in the class. I learned I have patience when it comes to not being able to do something I keep trying until I get it right. I learned I can work in a team with others for a while. I never thought some of the others would be able to work in a team setting but they did. I changed a lot over the year I went from not liking half the people in the class to liking everyone. I liked like two people at the beginning and as time got shorter we all grew closer. Travel changes people I know this from a first hand experience I went from not caring about anything other than my self to looking at the bigger picture getting along with people I don't like to achieve a goal we set out to achieve. We all worked with each other no matter out back round. I got a lot from this trip like how I proved I can do something and not just be a trouble maker and i'm glad I got to prove it to other people.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beyond Puerto Rico

We are back from our trip. Being in school is not so good after all the fun we had.  I wish we could do that all the time.  Now we have to do our school work and talk about our trip.  Bryan says, when I can tell people about it and what I learned that it is how we learn to make the trip more important.  So here it goes.....
I have been to Maine but I have never been to Puerto Rico. It was different to go somewhere that I have never been to. One thing that made it different was going somewhere without my parents. My parents always go out of the state with me, so it was different to go somewhere without them... and this time for a whole week!
My favorite part of going to Puerto Rico was zip lining and horseback riding.   I would recommend zip lining and horseback riding to other people that may go to Puerto Rico. 
Here is the photo of the group before our zip lining tour!  

This is me getting hooked onto the platform before zipping over the tree tops.

This is me again hanging from the wire on my way to the next platform.
My project is on some of the fish in Puerto Rico; blue marlin, tuna, and pea cock bass.  To wrap up my project I am making a book on fish in Puerto Rico. I learned about what the peacock bass eat, mainly smaller fish, but they will take any prey.    I also learned that tuna eat other fish too and invertebrates, like squid.   The blue marlin eats lobsters, crabs, and also large prawns. 

There is a lot more to say but I have to really work at getting my book done before school ends. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello all! I am wrapping up my project, so I figured I would give an update on Titus. Titus is doing quite well, he is fat and happy and I am waiting for his next molt. I gave him a new burrow, a broken piece of pottery which he has literally landscaped around. He has been sitting comfortably in his burrow for the last few days. While in Puerto Rico, I saw some cool insects.
I'm still trying to figure this guy out but he looks like either a rhinoceros beetle or a stag beetle.
I was also lucky enough to come across this: It is a Puerto Rican White Millipede. They are adorable in my opinion. I didn't see any tarantulas while there, however I did help our amazing guide Mario identify a tarantula that he saw and took a photo of. It turned out to be an Avicularia Laeta, the Puerto Rican Tree Spider. I also correctly identified a baby stick bug, small victories haha. Anyways it may not have been that eventful of a trip when it came to insects, but it was wonderful anyways! I will have Titus to remember it by for at least a few years, up to 20 if he turns out to be a she.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Our Day in Old San Juan

Hannah’s Blog Post
Thursday, May 25, 2012
Today was a full day.  First, we took an extensive tour of Old San Juan. 

My visit in Old San Juan truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I have never seen such a bright and colorful city with buildings so exquisite in nature.  They varied in rainbow colors, like reds, blues, teals, purples, yellows, and pinks.  The architecture was fantastic, as well.  I was totally taken aback by the magnificence of the Spanish architecture.  The entire time, I found myself continually wondering: “How is it I have never seen the beauty in architecture before?”  I have seen pictures before, after all.  The only answer I could come up with is that such a glorious sight could never be properly captured on film.  Although that didn’t stop me from trying.  I doubt very much if the pictures I took—and I took A LOT— will do the city justice.  In addition to our tour of Old San Juan, we also got to explore several forts that were built by the Spaniards in the early 1500s.  They were very cool, and their location (Oceanside) added to their regality.  As strange as it sounds, my favorite part of the forts was seeing the old graveyard.  Odd, I know.  But I have never seen anything quite like it.  The graveyard was not open to public at that time, but I got some fabulous aerial views.  I find it difficult to explain how wonderfully different that graveyard is from the ones back home.  First of all, it is literally right on the ocean.  The gorgeous Oceanside view made me (a little) jealous of the people buried there.  It was a real old-fashioned graveyard—like the kind you see in books and movies.  The Catholic and Spanish influence was very prominent, and each grave/tombstone exerted a regal quality, like someone of extraordinary importance was buried there.  Most of the tombs were white marble and had some sort of statue or cross at the base.  Also keeping with Puerto Rican theme, a lot of the tombs had flowers planted or placed next to or on them.  Unlike the cemeteries back home, however, these flowers were colorful, bright and cheerful.   Again, unlike our customs back home where we place flowers as way of mourning the loss of our loved ones, these flowers are more symbolic of celebrating, or commemorating, someone’s life, rather than mourning their death.  The color scheme is very similar to that of their buildings: Bright, bold colors with exotic qualities.  When you combine each of these “ingredients” that make Old San Juan, you have one of the brightest, most colorfully extravagant cities in the world.  

The rainbow buildings + the Spanish architectural styles + the mix of traditional and contemporary styles + the baby blue skies + the fluffy white clouds + the teal ocean + the surrounding green trees + the colorful plants + the cobblestone roads + the cast-iron doors + the birds and wildlife + the people who call it their home = OLD SAN JUAN (Viejo San Juan)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Zipping Our Time Away!

Tuesday May 22, 2012

What a GREAT day!  It’s not just the fact that we got to go zip lining in the rain forest tree canopy at La Marquesa Forest Park in Guaynabo Puerto Rico – it’s everything that surrounds us.

Let’s start with the zip lining.   
Again, there was an even split for those of us who have been zip lining before and those that haven’t.  If you aren’t familiar with what a zip line is this is where there are platforms high in the tree canopy and the trees are connected by stretches of cable.  Once you are fully geared up in a harness, helmet, caribeaners, pulleys and gloves, you are set to go… well, of course only after listening to the safety instructions!  
Once in gear, we hiked up the the first platform which was a steep ascent, especially in the heat and weighed down by the gear, but we didn’t let that get us down.  After waiting for our turn, one-by-one we went down the first line. For me, it was absolutely exhilarating! 

There were so many mixed emotions swirling around us.  Excitement.  Fear.  Euphoria. Nervousness. Composure.  Stress.  Relief.  Pride.  Gratification.  Happiness.  It was wonderful to see the level of confidence (and fun factor) increase as the new-to-this-folks became more comfortable with each run down a line.  Also it was very impressive witnessing those who pushed through the fear and discomfort to prove to themselves that they COULD face down their fear.  Especially heartwarming was watching the students support each other with kind and encouraging words – the level of compassion they showed each other had a profound effect.  This class and all its lessons and experiences have brought the students so much closer and they share a bond that is unique to the seven of them. This bond was seen throughout the evening as we went out to the ocean, ate dinner together and then all went for a night swim in the pool.  Amidst all the horsing around and playing, you could see the kids watching out for each other.  

It was a great day and it is a wonderful journey we are taking together.  It’s hard to believe how quickly the week is passing.  In the next couple of days we have lined up cave tubing, visiting Old San Juan (this is to explore all the old forts and go to the Butterfly People Cafe) and kayaking in Bioluminescence Bay.  I suspect that time is going to continue to fly by... =o)