Can We do Research with Students in Costa Rica?
As any teacher of Science would know research is a double edge sword with students. Our goal is often trying to balance the importance of students' understanding the time, energy, and effort done to develop facts while making sure students do not get bored. In today's world having students understand where facts come from is more important than ever. We have noticed that doing research on an international trip is often more exciting than simply doing it in the classroom. While there are many options here are three for doing research in Costa Rica with students.
Birds - Why is birding the most popular hobby among naturalists? Well it is actually fun and challenging. Just like anything in life when you get a like on Facebook or find a bird in your binoculars your brain has a similar reaction. With Costa Rica having more birds than all of North America and being only the size of Vermont, it is the perfect spot to observe plenty of them. With students you can trap, tag, and study birds helping experts collect information on migratory patterns. This research is done very early in the morning so plan on meeting the birds for an early breakfast.
Bats - If you are not a morning person no worries this research project is for you. Heading out into the rainforest at night is one of the most magical experiences you will have. Getting the chance to study bats just enhances the experience. With over 220 mammal species in Costa Rica bats make up more than half of those. Here you will have the chance to trap and collect data while also studying their feces looking for seeds.
One of the best parts about this research is that students get an up-close look at bats which Hollywood has given a bad rap. You will see in Costa Rica there are many species that you and your students will find yourselves saying they are as cute if not cuter than even sloths!
Amphibians and/or Butterflies Another fun research project is amphibians or butterflies. Many of these species are your postcard bright colored ambassadors of the rainforest. Having a chance to work closely with them makes each student feel like a true biologist. The research can be during the day or night depending upon the project. These range from working on the life-cycle and housing and monitoring them through the different stages.
A few other options for doing research in Costa Rica are working with fresh water fish, identifying the four different sea turtle species, tree canopy observations, studying the soil, farming techniques, and much more.