Act 1: If it smells bad, it’s Chemistry
There’s an old joke, “If it’s green, it’s Biology. If it smells bad, it’s Chemistry, and if it doesn’t work, it’s Physics.” This last week, my 11th grade chemistry class was introduced to the smelly side of Chemistry. We made 9 esters. Each one had a distinctive smell. In the lab, the students used the “wafting” technique to try to identify each compound’s odor to be: pineapple, pear, rasberry, wintergreen, apple, etc. For the rest of the day, the lab smelled like a candy factory.
Act 2: Ticos and Labs
In the Costa Rican school system, there are little to no laboratory experiences. This means that ticos, upon high school graduation, have never dissected anything in Biology, never weighed or measured anything in Chemistry, and never dropped or rolled anything in Physics. But not at our school. We are one of the only national (as in not international) schools that has a lab curriculum. This makes ordering chemicals difficult. The chemical supply companies in Costa Rica are used to filling large industrial orders. We have often been ignored by them, because we can’t fill a large enough order to make it worth their time. Ordering from the U.S. is near imposible because of taxes and special permissions to bring in “dangerous” chemicals. God has provided us with a little here and a little there, and I think we’ve just finished gather chemicals for all of the lab that I have planned currently. I’ve been spending my vacation making ‘kits’ of each of the labs. I hope that I can create a lab curriculum that is super teacher friendly so that the school can continue to give hands-on science education.
Act 3: The Beach
Vacation has come! ‘Winter’ break here goes from July 1-22. So we’ve been enjoying a little bit of R&R. On our first weekend of winter break, we drove out of San Jose to spend 2 days and a night on the Caribbean coast. Our destination was Cahuita National Park in Limon Province. On the way out there we passed by a Sloth Crossing sign, signaling the entrance of a Sloth Sanctuary. It was a great experience. We even got to pet one! Fun fact: Sloths like to eat hibiscus flowers.
After the sloth tour, we arrived in Cahuita, a national park with amazing, easy-to-find wildlife both on land and in the water. On a 3 hour snorkeling tour, we saw about 10 types of coral, what seemed like 100 types of fish (including stingrays, lobsters, eels, sharks, and a lion fish!) Walking through the park we encountered: a massive spider, geckos, tucans, and even an eyelash viper. We plan to fill the rest of vacation with deep cleaning in the apartment, preparing for the next semester, and most excitingly heading to the States! We’re heading up on July 12 to Chicago to our new niece Mallory Himes, and then down to Nashville until we return on the 20th. We’re excited to see so many of you again!