Sunday, July 28, 2013

Latin America Educational Plans

See an earlier post for our overall educational theme that we'll use in all locations.  The following are specific experiences we're planning in Latin America.

August 12 – November 15, 2013

Costa Rica

8/12 - 8/25: Monteverde Cloud Forest and Spanish Language School

We’ll be staying with a Costa Rican family, having meals with them, and studying Spanish 4 hours a day in Monteverde.

Educational Topics:

  • What is a cloud forest?  Is it different than a rainforest?
  • What types of animals live in the cloud forest, and where do they live?
  • Why is a rainforest or cloud forest important to maintain?
  • Is climate change having an impact on the cloud forest?

8/26 - 9/2: Manuel Antonio National Park

A coastal rainforest that is one of the most popular in Costa Rica.  Among other things we’ll be doing a tour with Kids Saving the Rainforest

Educational Topics:

  • What is the difference between this rainforest and the cloud forest we saw in Monteverde?
  • What types of animals live here?
  • What did kids do to help save the rainforest?  And specifically, what did they do to help the monkeys?
  • Is climate change having an impact on the rainforest?

9/3 - 9/16: Drake Bay and Corcovado Rainforest, Peninsula de Osa

Exploring the Corcovado rainforest and learning how the community interacts with it.  We’ll be spending time with the NatureKids school that teaches English and environmental practices to rural kids and families. (

Educational Topics:

  • How has the community evolved to protect the rainforest?
  • What has happened with turtles over the years and how are they being protected?
  • How are cats such as jaguars being protected?  Is it harder to protect jaguars then other animals?  Why?
  • Is climate change having an impact?


9/22-9/27: Arequipa and Colca Canyon

Arequipa is a beautiful colonial city in the southern part of Peru.  We’ll explore it and then take a 2-3 day trip to Colca Canyon, which is a 60 mile (100km) long canyon that is twice as deep as Grand Canyon (2nd deepest in the world – it’s neighbor the Cotahuasi canyon is the largest)

Educational Topics:

  • How were these canyons formed?
  • Learn about Andean Condors (wingspan of 10 ½ feet!) that glide on air currents coming up from the canyon
  • What impacts are happening in this region from melting glaciers in the Andes?
  • How has terrace farming enabled people to live in these canyons?

9/30 - 10/19: Cusco, Macchu Picchu, Sacred Vally & Spanish Language school

Learn about ancient Inca civilization (note – there is some Inca ancestry in our family).

Educational Topics:
  • What was the Inca Empire?
  • Creating a timeline for the Inca Empire
  • How did Inca society work?
  • Inca technology: farming, roads, communication, building
  • What were the impacts of European explorers?
  • What environmental and geographic challenges did the Inca face?
  • How was Machu Picchu discovered?

10/21-10/28: Manu rainforest – Amazon basin

Spending a week with Crees (  Crees stands for Conservation Research, Environmental Education towards Sustainability and sets to prove that ethical and sustainable practices can produce and create an improved future for the rainforest and its people through providing real solutions to local problems.

Educational Topics:

  • How many species of animals are found near the research station where we’ll be staying? 
  • Why is there so much biodiversity in the rainforest?
  • Why is biodiversity important?  What are the consequences of a species going extinct?
  • Peru is a country that is experiencing significant rates of rainforest  deforestation.  Why is this happening?
  • What are crees and others doing to stop it?  What can we do?
  • What is the impact on us if significant parts of the rainforest are lost?

Ecuador – The Galapagos

11/5-11//14: For half of the time we’ll be on a small live aboard boat visiting multiple islands

Educational Topics:

  • Why are there such strange animals in the Galapagos?
  • Who is Charles Darwin?  How did the Galapagos help him discover his theory of evolution?
  • What has been the impact of people?
  • What have been the impacts of non-native species?
  • What is the impact of climate change?
  • What has been the impact of tourism?  Is it positive or negative?
  • Why are there penguins in the Galapagos, where it is warm?

What's next?

After a 2 week break in Minneapolis, in early December we'll be headed west to Australia, then Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Africa, and Europe.  Here's some general info on the itinerary from an earlier post.  More specifics to come on this part of the trip later!

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