Over spring break this year, students from AP Biology and AP Environmental Science at Cleveland Heights High School took a week-long trip to Belize to study ecology, marine life, and conservation. On March 20, students departed from Cleveland early in the morning and arrived in Belize in the afternoon. They stayed in a few different locations throughout the duration of their trip, with each location offering a unique perspective on different parts of the environment. Students learned about the ecology of pine savannas as well as the importance of wildlife conservation when they stayed at the Tropical Education Center, which works in conjunction with the Belize Zoo. They also had the opportunity to learn about marine life during their stay on the Tobacco Caye, a small island surrounded by a protected marine reserve. On Tobacco Caye, students listened to lectures from local marine biologists, visited scientific research stations and went snorkeling in a variety of environments. Students even had the chance to snorkel at night, giving them the opportunity to observe the contrast between animals that are visible during the day and at night.
Hannah Teets, a junior who attended the trip this year, said that the trip was very impactful for her. “I really enjoyed getting to experience things that we usually only learn about in class,” Teets said. “It was a really cool trip that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.” Mr. Miller and Mrs. Miller, who organized the trip, created an assignment to go along with the experience to help students record their learning and additionally have a physical project to look back on in the future. Students logged every day in their journal, and everyone was responsible for taking videos to be combined at the end. Groups of three each produced their own travel “vlog” style video to help promote the trip and remember their experience.
This trip was a very memorable one for both the students and the teachers. Trips like this are what distinguish some classes from others, and help students translate the things they learn about in the classroom to a real-world setting.