Overview Description Requirements Outline Itinerary Cost Application Director Rainforest And Reef Penn State Lehigh Valley
I. Reading and Web "Pre-Trip" Assignments

II. "Trip" Presentations and Programs

III. "Trip" Journal Assignments

IV. "Trip" Species Assignments

V. Field-based Research Assignments

VI. Additional Information

Savegre Hike
I. Reading and Web "Pre-Trip" Assignments
- to be completed before departure, questions will be sent to you via e-mail

A. Costa Rica - General Information
CIA World Factbook
Costa Rica Bruncas
Costa Rica Handbook
Lonely Planet: Destination Costa Rica
Fodors.com Costa Rica
(U.S.) Consular Information
Cocori: Complete Costa Rica

B. Costa Rican Culture
Costa Rica's Culture
Costa Rica Arts and Culture

C. Costa Rican National Parks
World Headquarters: Costa Rica National Parks
Costa Rica Map's Biodiversity
Costa Rica National Parks and Reserves
Costa Rica Travel and Tourism Bureau
Phillip Greenspan's Costa Rica

D. Costa Rican Flora and Fauna
Martin Kramer's Animals of Costa Rica
INBio (Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad)
Manual de Plantes de Cosa Rica
Organization for Tropical Studies
La Suerte Biological Field Station and Ometepe Biological Field Station
Skip's Costa Rica Nature Tour

E. Biodiversity Links
Biodiversity and Biological Collections Web Server
Centres of Plant Diversity in South America
World Atlas of Biodiversity
The Tree of Life Web Project
World Wildlife Fund: Factsheets
Animal Diversity Web
Resources for the Future: Biodiversity
Biodiversity and World Map
Biodiversity Project: What is Biodiversity?
Conservation International
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Union of Concerned Scientists: Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions
World Conservation Union


II. "Trip" Presentations and Programs *
- to be attended by all participants throughout the trip component; reading handouts will be given to you when necessary; presentations will be given by field researchers at conservations sites visited, Dr. McLaughlin and her staff, Costa Rican government officials, and all 497 students and all pre-service and in-service teachers selected to participate in this program.*

The following topics, and many others related to specific environmental issues will be covered:

  • Biogeography of Costa Rica
  • Biodiversity and speciation
  • Species richness and abundance
  • Rainforest structure and stability
  • Identifying the variety of life (flora and fauna) that exists in the varied rainforest ecosystems of Costa Rica
  • Species interactions
  • Evolutionary adaptations and niche selection of rainforest organisms
  • Importance of biodiversity and threats (required reading, The Future of Life, E.O. Wilson)
  • Costa Rica’s conservation efforts
  • Threatened, endangered and extinct species in Costa Rica and throughout the world
  • The plight of the Chelonia mydas (Atlantic Green) and the Dermochelys coriacea (Leatherback) sea turtles (required reading, The Windward Road, Archie Carr)
  • HIPPO (Habitat distruction, Invasive Species, Population explosion, Pollution, Overharvesting)
  • Global Warming (required reading, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore)
  • Ecological and economic challenges of the 21st century
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Global water supply
  • NGO's and their work in conservation
  • Biodiversity of the world biomes
  • Conservation and hands-on research efforts of the Carribean Conservation Corporation (CCC), the Asociacion ANAI, and La Selva Biological Station (Organization of Tropical Studies)
* Students in Biology 497 and CHANCE high school teachers must select a topic of interest that pertains to a specific environmental issue (approved by instructor) and lead a 30-45 minute discussion.

III. "Trip" Journal Assignments
- to be completed by all participants throughout the trip component and upon return to the mainland.
You will be given a trip journal
to keep notes on your trip. For
example, you should keep a daily
journal of things you did, things
you saw and things you learned.

You might also want to keep track
of the people you met and anything
else you wish to remember, such
as your first impressions, your
surprises, etc.

Sky Track

After your trip you will be asked to write a short summary for each day of travel. Your entries may also be quoted in various newspaper, magazine, and journal publications given your permission.

After your trip you will be required to answer the following questions. It is suggested to write some of your answers throughout your travels in your journal.

  • In general, what impressed you the most about Costa Rica’s biodiversity?
  • Overall, what were your best and worst experiences in Costa Rica?
  • What was the most challenging (physical and/or emotional) experience that you accomplished in Costa Rica?
  • Any surprises or disappointments throughout the trip?
  • What was the most significant thing that you learned about biodiversity throughout your adventures in Costa Rica or in Panama?
  • How have human activities impacted the natural habitats of Costa Rica? Be specific.
  • What are your opinions on the future of Costa Rica's biodiversity?
  • What are your opinions on the future of biodiversity in the United States?
  • What problems concerning conservation biology on a global scale did you uncover during CHANCE? And are there solutions?
  • From what you have experienced either directly or indirectly in the field, and through your extraneous use of textbooks and other resources to understand basic environmental science and ecology concepts, elaborate on three of the following items being as thorough as possible:
    (a) the affects of abiotic factors on Leatherback hatchling success in Gandoca (you may want to carry out the CHANCE “Plight of the Leatherback” module for guidance here;
    (b) the species diversity (species richness and relative abundance) of the lowland land tropical rainforest vs. the northeastern deciduous forest (re: E. O. Wilson’s Latitude Density Model)
    (c) a summation of a field presentation by any fellow CHANCE participant;
    (d) a summary of your field work at La Selva Biological Field Station
  • You have acquired a substantial amount of knowledge and you have been exposed to a variety of points of view. How has this changed your opinion of conservation efforts, especially those linked to NGO’s (re-read Wilson’s last chapter entitled, The Solution, and reference).

IV. "Trip" Species Assignments
- to be completed throughout the trip component and upon return to the mainland

Students taking the course for Biology 297 credits are required to research one selected Costa Rican native plant or animal species. Students and all CHANCE in-service teachers taking the Biology 497 course for credits are required to research two selected Costa Rican native plant or animal species.

During your trip you should research your selected organism(s) by asking questions, using field guides, etc. Upon your return, you may wish to research your organism(s) in more depth. Please answer the following questions as thoroughly as possible using complete sentences:

  • What is the scientific name of the species? Common name?
  • Where was the organism spotted (if at all; if not spotted, where could we have seen it)?
  • What is the range and habitat of the species?
  • What is its evolutionary history? (origin, relatives etc.)
  • What role does it play in its environment (niche)? Is it a keystone species?
  • Any unique adaptations?
  • Any unique behavioral characteristics?
  • Any unique interspecific interactions like competition, predation, and commensalism?
  • Elaborate on the species food chain.
  • Is it an endemic species to Costa Rica? If not, where else is it found?
  • What are the threats to its survival?
  • What conservation efforts, if any, are presently being undertaken to protect this organism's survival?

V. Field-based Research for Biology 497 Students and CHANCE High School Teachers
- to be completed during the trip component and upon your return to the mainland

Based on actual field based research activities in Costa Rica, you are required to complete two research summaries as part of your scientific inquiry-based training in environmental science and ecology. Each summary will document your research objectives, methods, data analysis, data itself, data interpretation, conclusions, and summary. Each summary must be approved and signed by the field scientist you are assigned to work with. A scientific report will be due as part of your post-trip assignment and will include objectives, methods, data analysis and interpretation, conclusions, and literature review.

VI. Additional Information for In-Service and Pre-Service Teachers: CHANCE has filled a void in the standards-driven environment of public science education, by offering authentic research embedded into multimedia learning materials that students and teachers can use easily and efficiently. Indeed, CHANCE has grown to impact hundreds of teachers and thousands of students and, by design, an exponential number of science teachers via the Internet where these modules are readily available and continually supplemented. After you complete the CHANCE trip component, Dr. McLaughlin will be in touch to share information with you on how you can join her at a National Association of Biology Teacher’s (NABT) or Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association (PSTA) professional development workshop in the fall of 2009 for training in the use of CHANCE “research modules.”



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This site was last updated on January 23, 2008.
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