Monday, July 1, 2019

On the way to the airport!

Hello All! Our apologies for the lack of blog post for this final leg of the trip. Everyone is doing well. On our way to the airport. Kids should have phone access by the airport in Houston and may have WiFi access when we arrive to the airport here. We arrive at 5:09pm. See you soon!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday Update

Students have had a long day of science today, finishing data collection, analyzing results, and preparing their final presentations that will be shared with the full group tomorrow morning at 10am. We’ll have a more detailed student update tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wednesday Update (day 6)

Today the MPA crew awoke at 5:30 am, and ate an early breakfast in preparation for a multi-hour nature hike. Upon arrival to Parque Rinc√≥n de la Vieja, which was a good hour and fifteen minutes away from base camp and in an entirely different biome (dry forest), we were met with beautiful trees and butterflies. The crew walked to a sulfuric hot spring and used the mud to exfoliate. Not long after many of us found ourselves washing away the mud because our skin was burning, whoops. A few kilometers later, we walked down to a waterfall and swam in the freezing water. After a hearty picnic, we returned to the base camp where we resumed our projects. 

In my group (we call ourselves the Cacows), we collected data on our preliminary experiment and both of our controls. We, unfortunately, found one colony to be defective (what functional leaf cutter ant colony would refuse to forage leaves?). After dinner, we set up our general experiment. The Cacows are researching the use of decomposing matter on foraging ant colonies, as on the plantation it is used as a natural pesticide. The decomposing matter ferments, creating acetic acid (vinegar) which when foraged changes the pH of the fungus garden and causes the colony to collapse. Therefore colonies learn not to forage it and avoid it. This is our theory that is we'll have to test and see.

Fiona Blank

Photos by Zoe (All from the hike, except for the new puppy on the cacao farm, Aretha Franklin, we had to include her!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Tuesday Update


Yesterday was full of science; we had many different classes filled with multiple experiments. Fortunately, we had breaks in between these classes, including a coffee break with churros and hot chocolate. Part of yesterday was determining what experiments we would conduct. We then had to create a presentation defining our question, hypothesis, and the procedure for our main experiment. These presentations exposed us to the peer review nature of science, which is an intimidating process.

After a late night last night, we started our morning bright and early with horseback riding. We rode the horses through a trail in the forest to an overlook at the top of a big hill. On a clear day, you can see Nicaragua. While today was not that clear, it was still an adventure and beautiful picture.

After the ride, we came back to the classroom and began our experiments. Our group's experiment involves the aggressive behavior of ants belonging to different colonies. In our preliminary experiments, we put two ants from the same colony in the choice chamber with one ant from a different colony and there was no aggressive behavior. However, when some fungus from the colony of the two ants was added, a fight broke out! Surprisingly, the ant from the rival colony was dominant. We cannot wait to see what happens tomorrow!!
Olivia and Vicky

Monday, June 24, 2019

Photo Update from Ms. Sullivan

Leaf Cutter Ant Trail

On mature colony

Students off to harvest their first colony

Photo Update From Ms. Anderson

Alan (one of the grad students) captured the Gecko!  But not the tail! Don't worry it will grow back in a few days.

On the way to the airport!

Hello All! Our apologies for the lack of blog post for this final leg of the trip. Everyone is doing well. On our way to the airport. Kids s...

Day 3 Update