• Belize/Guatemala Trip 2016
    biotope        rainforest      
      survivor southwater caye

     20 Mat-Su Career and Technical High School students embarked on a 16-day adventure in Central America to learn place-based science and earn school credit.

    Career and Tech science teacher Tim Lundt, along with history teacher Zack Lanphier and Wasilla Middle School math teacher Vonda Best, led the students on an educational journey through Belize and Guatemala to gain knowledge about Mayan culture, rainforest and marine biology for a half-credit ecology course.

    The group arrived in Belize City on May 25, then traveled four hours by bus to Peten, Guatemala. There they stayed at Hotel Gringo Perdido located on Lake Peten, snuggled up against the Mayan rainforest.

    In the first few days, students explored the Mayan temples of Tikal, Petencito Zoo, ARCAS Wildlife Rescue Center, Cerro Biotope Cahui Nature Reserve and the town of Flores. Students also conducted water tests on Lake Peten and got firsthand experience with insects that live in the rainforest, such as large cockroaches and moths that only appear when the lights go off.

    After four days in Guatemala, students boarded the buses and traveled back to Belize. Another long bus ride later — without air conditioning — students arrived at Blue Creek Rainforest in the southern part of the country.

    As soon as the bus stopped, the group was greeted by 30 Mayan children wanting to carry everyone’s bags the half mile to the International Zoological Expedition’s facilities. It is customary to let the children carry bags in return for a $5 US tip. The Mayan people of this area are some of the poorest in the country. They have no running water, most don’t have electricity and many of their houses still have dirt floors. Thus, the children will give the money they earn to their parents.

    The next three days in the rainforest were packed with scientific activities that included water testing of the river, exploring the Hokeb Ha Cave system, swimming in Blue Creek Cave, going on a green iguana hunt and zip lining through the rainforest canopy.

    In their spare time, students Lucas Adams and Joshua Bryant tried catching the rare Machaca fish with Adams finally landing a 14-incher. The Machaca inhabits the rivers in the area and is a relative of the piranha, but is not carnivorous.

    Lundt and three students, Amanda Mayer, Klawitter and Olivia Kilborn, had the rare opportunity to visit Silvano Sho, a local Mayan who is an expert on local plants and their medicinal properties. The girls recorded and took notes about the 25 different plants they spotted in hopes that they could develop a book to be sold and raise money for the local village.

    Students were surprised with the small amount of insects in the Blue Creek rainforest, but plenty of snakes were out — including a fer-de-lance that got a little too close for comfort and had to be killed by Lanphier.

    The journey continued as students loaded up the bus and headed to Hopkins, a small, coastal Garifuna community, for a little culture and lunch that included listening to traditional Garifuna drummers.

    From there students headed to Dangriga with a stop at Marie Sharp’s hot sauce factory. Students toured the factory, tasted multiple products and purchased several items as gifts. Last April, Marie Sharp was voted into the Hot Sauce Hall of Fame and is currently the only female that has received that honor.

    Later, students got onto two boats and headed to South Water Caye for the next nine days.

    On South Water Caye, students snorkeled every day on different reefs. Students learned about the different types of reefs (fringing, barrier, patch and atolls), invasive species like the lionfish, climate change and its effects on the reefs, as well as tree identification and measurement. Students also conducted research on a variety of topics, such as the feeding habits of stingrays, aggressive behavior in damselfish associated with color and why fish form schools.

    Shania Best, who went on a similar trip with Lundt in 2014, came back this year specifically to snorkel around the Bread and Butter patch reef, a shallow-water reef with calm waters perfect for invertebrates like sea stars, sea biscuit urchin, and sea cucumbers.

    Several students had the opportunity to learn how to scuba dive, which allowed the students to view turtles, nurse sharks and other marine life up close.

    “Belize is a wonderful place and snorkeling was very interesting as well as educational,” Best said. “Being able to see all the different kinds of ocean life is a great experience and I am very thankful I was able to do this.”

    When the students weren’t in the classroom or out snorkeling, they were divided into five groups of four for several “Survivor” games that required each team to work together to do a variety of tasks using both physical and mental strength and coordination. No student was “voted off the island,” nor was $1,000,000 offered to the winning team, but they did learn what competition brings out in each other, and were rewarded with cold soda pop and candy bars.

    The final activity for the students was a test on what they learned during their stay in Belize and Guatemala. The great times and experiences ended on June 9 with a final boat ride and a bus ride to the airport.

    “I loved this trip, the experience was great!” Klawitter said. “We learned so much and got to meet so many wonderful people. Being able to interact with all the native children of Belize and to experience the culture was a whole new world. I hope to go back someday.”

    Tim Lundt is a science teacher at Mat-Su Career and Technical High School. He can be reached atTimothy.Lundt@matsuk12.us.

    Questions See Mr. Lundt or call  352-0433 
    Guatemala/Belize Trip 2014
    16 students from CTHS and PHS will be going on this trip scheduled for May 23rd, 2014 and returning June 6th, 2014.  Students will have the opportunity to learn about the Mayan culture and complete many hands-on science activity centered around ecology and marine biology.  Once the students have complete all of the activities they will earn .5 science credits in Ecology.  Cost of this trip is $3,200 and that includes airfare.  Extra costs will include scuba diving, luggage and spending money.
     Blue Fish
    South Water Caye, Belize
    Tikal National Park, Guatemala
     Check out IZE Belize on Facebook or on thier web site at http://www.ize2belize.com/
    Belize Trip 2012
    Seventeen students will be traveling to Belize on May 24th, 2012 and returning on June 8th, 2012.  Students will have the opportunity to learn first hand about Belize through many hands-on science activities while earning a .5 credit in ecology or marine biology.
    For more information about the trip visit this web site www.izebelize.com.
    Belize 2012     Caving Belize    Group Shot Belize    snorkling
    southwater caye  
    Questions contact Tim Lundt at 352-0433
    Costa Rica Trip
    Fourteen  students traveled to Costa Rica on May 26th, 2009 and returning June 7th, 2009  Students had the opportunity to learn about Costa Rica through many hands-on science activities.  During this trip students  mastered the following standards:
    Pacific beach
    Pacific Ocean
    Venado Cave Exploration
    Zipline through cloud forest of Monteverde
    Major highlight of the trip was a visit to Serafin Turtle Station.  Listed below is information about the endangered leatherback turtle.
    During the nesting season (March to July) the Costa Rica leatherback project conducts nightly census work. Scientists, assisted by a staff of volunteers, patrol the beach and search for turtles. Each turtle is given a tag with  a unique number. This information helps scientists identify the turtles who nest each night, find out how many times each turtle nests during the season, and determine the nesting interval. The data also allows scientists to calculate the population size in areas where the turtles are not observed but the nests can be seen.  Students where able to collect the eggs from one leatherback turtle 100 plus eggs and relocated her nest.  Second leatherback was on beach but she had laid her eggs before we arrived.
    Costa Rica Leatherback Project participants also protect nests from poachers and predators to maximize the number of hatchlings produced. They measure turtles, count eggs, measure the temperature of nests to determine hatchling sex, and record the level of human activity on the beach
    A hatchery project for leatherback eggs is another primary activity at Playa Grande. Participants collect the eggs as the turtles lay them. Then, the eggs are transported to hand dug nests in the hatchery. Nests are the same depth as those made by the turtles. They are placed one metre apart. Some nests have gas and temperature sampling devices in them. Sampling devices are placed between some of the empty nets to measure the control data. Each nest is marked with the identification information of the turtle which laid the eggs, and the number of eggs. After the nest has hatched, the scientists excavate it and calculate the success rate.   This trip we watched 57 leatherback turtles hatched.  Students weighed and measured the hatchlings then released them into the ocean.
    Internship opportunities are available to students 17 years and older to come to Serafin Turtle Station to work with leatherback turtles.
    Second major highlight is visiting Sloth Rescue Center just north of Cahuita, Costa Rica.  This is the only such rescue center of its kind in the world that rescues three-toed and two-toed sloths, two totally different species.
    sloth recovery  dani sloth
    More information can be found at http://www.slothrescue.org .  After talking with the owners they have invited myself back to show them how to articulate the skeletons of sloths that have past a way so that they can gain more information about the sloths.
    boating  horseback riding  lunch  sugar cane
    All the students had a great time learning about the rainforest, geology of Costa Rica, conducting water analyses, identifying birds, insects, plants and mammals,  and interacting with the locals.  Many students didn't want to come home and many want to return. 
    In Costa Rica their is a saying for the good life "Pura Vida"

     Science Performance Standards

    D1—Concepts of Earth Science

    SD Students develop an understanding of the concepts, processes, theories, models, evidence, and systems of earth and space sciences.

    SD1 Students develop an understanding of Earth’s geochemical cycles.

    SD2 Students develop an understanding of the origins, ongoing processes, and forces that shape the structure, composition, and physical history of the Earth.


    Science Performance Standards

    C1—Concepts of Life Science

    SC1 Students develop an understanding of how science explains changes in life forms over time, including genetics, heredity, the process of natural selection, and biological evolution.

    SC2 Students develop an understanding of the structure, function, behavior, development, life cycles, and diversity of living organisms.


    Science Performance Standards

    B1—Concepts of Physical Science

    SB4 Students develop an understanding of motions, forces, their characteristics and relationships, and natural forces and their effects.



    Science Performance Standards

    A1—Science as Inquiry and Process

    SA2 Students develop an understanding that the processes of science require integrity, logical reasoning, skepticism, openness, communication, and peer review.

    SA3 Students develop an understanding that culture, local knowledge, history, and interaction with the environment contribute to the development of scientific knowledge, and local applications provide opportunity for understanding scientific concepts and global issues.


    Biology Curriculum Standards

    Ecology                 Bio17:  Investigate ecological relationships

    Ecology                 Bio18:  Interrelationship between competing user groups of similar resources

    Ecology                 Bio18.5 Dynamic factors that affect population size

    Evolution               Bio6:       Organisms exhibit variation in heritable traits

    Evolution               Bio 8:      How natural selection can cause speciation and extinction

    Scientific Method Bio 28    Given data calculate mean, median and mode

    Scientific Method Bio 36:   Recognize that scientific knowledge changes based on data

    Scientific Method Bio 37:   Recognize that scientific advancement depends on curiosity, creativity,

    imagination and a broad knowledge base.

                    Writing Performance Standards

    W4.3 Use the conventions of Standard English independently and consistently including grammar, sentence structure, paragraph structure, punctuation, spelling, and usage. E.A.2

    W4.4 Revise writing to improve style, word choice, sentence variety, and subtlety of meaning in relation to the purpose and audience. E.A.5


                                                                    Career & Tech Areas

    Comparison and evaluation of the tourism industry specifically looking at culinary arts, hotel to recreational opportunities.

    Career exploration

    Application of the Spanish language

    Research science with actual scientists


    In order for the students to accomplished the above standards they will be doing the following activities:


    • Daily journal
    • Coral reef analysis looking for bleaching and comparison between the Pacific and Caribbean coasts
    • Ten acre plots in the rain forest determining  tree species, determining height of trees, diameter and volume, population density and communities
    • Scavenger hunts
    • Fish, plant, tree, insect, arachnid, animal identification
    • 2 Days conducting research on turtles
    • The group will travel through Braulio Carrillo National Park to get their first look at true rainforest and take pictures.  Further along, we will stop at a sloth sanctuary for lunch and first hand viewing of these amazing animals. From there, we travel on to Puerto Viejo on the coast for dinner and swimming
    •  The group will travel inland to the village of BriBri and then when the road ends, we will hike into the jungle to the school of the BriBri, Namu Wokir.  Here students come to learn math, grammar and to speak spanish, but they take a few hours out of their day to have lunch with our kids and play soccer
    •  The group will make their way back up the coast towards Matina.  Along the way there is time for a few hours exploring Cahuita National park, known for wild sloth and howler monkeys.  The turtle station is located along a section of the coast surrounded by wetlands and can only be reached by boat.  Students will work the next two nights with biologists measuring, tagging and relocating eggs for the sea turtles.
    • day exploring the wetlands looking for birds, bats and poison dart frogs.  More turtle work at night.  Some groups may get the chance to release turtle hatchlings back into the sea.
    • Sarapiqui river for a day of exciting but safe, whitewater rafting.  On to the town of La Fortuna for the night.  Some nights it is possible to sea the Arenal volcano erupt in the distance.
    • The group will explore the darkened world of the Venado Caves, looking for bats, blind fish, and fossils. Once we reemerge from beneath the ground, its off to hike to La Fortuna’s spectacular waterfall and swim in the river below it.  After lunch in town and shopping, the group will head for the Hot Springs heated by the volcano.
    • he group will take a boat across Lake Arenal and get a great view of the famous volcano.  On the far side we will be met by horses that will carry us up into the mountains, across the continental divide and into the Cloud forests of Monteverde.  The afternoon will be spent visiting hummingbird galleries and butterfly farms and possibly a frog house.
    • The group will get harnessed up for the ride of their lives.  Strung through the canopy are a series of cables and we fly over and through the trees on zip lines.  An unforgettable experience.  From there we will head for the beach again, but this time on the Pacific Coast.  Scarlet Macaws, white faced monkeys, basilisks, and coatimundis are regularly seen here.  The beautiful white sand beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
    • Identification of the different terrestrial biomes
Last Modified on April 24, 2017