BioInquiry: Discovering Central America

Caye Caulker, San Ignacio, Placencia, Flores, Antigua, La Fortuna, Monteverde, Montezuma and Manuel Antonio

Semester Term 3

Mid February–Late March

Description

Study abroad in Costa Rica and Belize, earning high school credits on location. Dive into an adventure of a lifetime, investigating the jungles, volcanoes, and diverse coastlines of Costa Rica and Belize, while studying Biology and English.

 
50
DAYS 
Two Course Program

Courses Offered

  • Biology
  • IDC: Phys Ed, Health and Media
  • English +
  • Studies in Literature
  • Writer’s Craft

Staffing

9:1 Student to Staff Ratio

Availability

OPEN

*Based on air fares, land tariffs and currency exchange rates as of February, 2018. Please note the possibility of increases in airfares and land costs prior to departure. Any increase must be borne by the individual participant.
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This program absolutely blew me away. It’s truly life-changing to experience a place you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met. Being pushed outside of my comfort zone is what allowed me to realize that I’m capable of more than I thought, and I’m a lot more adventurous. Travelling opens your eyes to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than with people who are at the same stage in life as you are. We became a family on this trip, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything!

Sarah Mann
Student, Backpackers: Central America 2017

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This program absolutely blew me away. It’s truly life-changing to experience a place you’ve never been to with people you’ve never met. Being pushed outside of my comfort zone is what allowed me to realize that I’m capable of more than I thought, and I’m a lot more adventurous. Travelling opens your eyes to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I don’t think there’s a better way to do it than with people who are at the same stage in life as you are. We became a family on this trip, and that’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.!

Sarah Mann
Student, Backpackers: Central America 2017

Courses Offered

Biology
GRADE CODE
12 SBI4U
This course provides students with the opportunity for in-depth study of the concepts and processes associated with biological systems. Students will study theory and conduct investigations in the areas of biochemistry, metabolic processes, molecular genetics, homeostasis, and population dynamics. Emphasis will be placed on achievement of the detailed knowledge and refinement of skills needed for further study in various branches of the life sciences and related fields.

 

IDC: Phys Ed, Health and Media
GRADE CODE
12 IDC4U
This course combines the study of the healthy body in motion with the dissemination of ideas. In this interdisciplinary program that examines both body and mind, students participate in a wide range of physical activities, athletics, and theoretical frameworks. They are exposed to a broad range of activity settings, enhancing their movement competence, and personal fitness. The media component focuses on the refinement of communication and analysis skills, allowing student to practice using techniques confidently in a variety of media forms.

 

English
GRADE CODE
11 + 12 ENG3U + ENG4U

The core English course focuses on the refinement of literacy, communication and analytical skills. Students build on their understanding of academic language and practice using it confidently in discussion and argumentation both in oral and written forms.

 

Studies in Literature
GRADE CODE
12 ETS4U

This course is intended for students who are passionate about literature. Students analyze a range of literary forms including drama, the novel, and poetry, responding personally, critically, and creatively to each.

 

Writer's Craft
GRADE CODE
12 EWC4U

This course is designed for students who have attained a high level of proficiency in their writing skills and wish to focus on cultivating their creative writing talents by participating in prose, poetry, and drama-writing master classes.

 

Program Itinerary

Mid February–Late March
Day 1–5 Online Coursework
Day 6–7 Toronto—Departure
Day 7–11 Caye Caulker, Belize
Day 11–15 San Ignacio and Placencia, Belize
Day 15–25 Flores and the Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
Day 25–28 Antigua, Guatamala
Day 28–38 La Fortuna and Monteverde, Costa Rica
Day 38–42 Montezuma, Costa Rica
Day 42–50 Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Flight and hotel details are available on individual program sites, available to registered students and their parents.

Preparation and Coursework

Preparation and Coursework

Days 1-5

Our one-week online session is designed to connect students with their teachers and classmates and to help prepare students for their term abroad. Students have access to the course website, where reading lists will be posted and are required to complete all prep work prior to departure to ensure they are ready for their term in Central America.

Departure from Toronto

Departure from Toronto

Days 6-7

Our academic adventure in Central America commences in Toronto, where teachers and students get to know each other and settle into the rhythm of the program. There, we conduct activities and complete foundational course material before setting off for Belize. All of our preparation allows us to hit the ground running and dive straight into the adventure that awaits.

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize

Days 7-11

A sandy pathway through the centre of town leads students to a harbour flanked with boats, waiting to take them out to one of the most extensive coral reefs in the world. Caye Caulker offers students the chance to immerse themselves in an unmatched aquatic habitat, home to a vast array of tropical fish, stingrays, and turtles. Our morning workouts introduce students to the benefits of yoga, martial arts and frisbee, while in the afternoons, it is an ideal locale for the class to begin to examine the art of the short story, as well as delve into their first long-form academic writing assignments.

San Ignacio and Placencia, Belize

San Ignacio and Placencia, Belize

Days 11-15

While officially an English speaking country, Belize is home to an incredibly diverse population, with a unique blend of Mayan, Mestizo, African, European, Arabic and Asian heritage. In this setting, students investigate a variety of writings, including both ancient Mayan texts, and contemporary regional literature. In the evenings over dinners of fried plantain and fresh ceviche, class discussion turns to the clash of scientific method with the romantic interpretation of the cosmos. Additionally, excursions take us to the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves, where students are able to swim through the ancient chambers as bats fly overhead, as well as the spectacular Xunantunich Mayan ruins. In Placencia, students kick back and rejuvenate.

Flores, Guatemala and the Ruins of Tikal

Flores, Guatemala and the Ruins of Tikal

Days 15-25

As we enter the extraordinary Tikal Ruins, students reflect on the rise and fall of the Maya, as we compare and contrast their story with parallels in modern civilization. Our next destination will take us into Guatemala’s northeast jungle, the Petén region. The descendants of the Maya migrated to the Petén area after the collapse of the great Mayan cities in the Yucatán. This isolated area is a perfect location for students to begin to pair their study of English with that of Biology. Students will have time to reflect on the relationship between humanity and the natural world while enjoying all that the lake has to offer, including swimming, boating, fishing and hiking in a small nature preserve.

Antigua, Guatamala

Antigua, Guatamala

Days 25-28

In Antigua, once Guatemala’s capital city for more than 200 years, our academic focus turns to analyzing the work of the literary giants of Latin America. Students do a close analysis on the sub-genre of magic realism and examine how environments contribute to the evolution of art forms. Known as one of the best preserved Spanish colonial cities in Central America, students spend afternoons exploring the city’s cobblestone streets and hiking up to catch spectacular views of the volcanoes that overlook the city.

La Fortuna and Monteverde, Costa Rica

La Fortuna and Monteverde, Costa Rica

Days 28-38

From Guatemala, we travel to La Fortuna, Costa Rica. During the day, students have the opportunity to zip line across rainforest canopies, hike through the jungle to find waterfalls, and unwind in the natural hot springs. Located at the base of a volcano, La Fortuna, as the temperature cools in the evenings, students focus turns to critical analysis and essays, as well as their creative writing presentations. From La Fortuna, students venture to the mountain village of Monteverde where we reside in an Ecolodge perched high in the Cloud Forest. Here the natural world serves as their foundation for their biology studies. Students might very well spot an Emerald Toucanet or a family of playful kuatis from their own back porch.

Montezuma, Costa Rica

Montezuma, Costa Rica

Days 38–42

From high up in the Cloud Forest, students travel down to the coast, settling in the laid-back town of Montezuma, one of the hidden gems of Costa Rica. This is an ideal location to balance work with play as students complete their major projects, and final biology units while also taking time to swim in the ocean. In the evenings, we complete our final Book Chat discussions with our toes in the sand, and students showcase select pieces from their creative portfolio, illuminated by tiki torches on our quiet stretch of private beach.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Days 42–50

The final stop on our journey through Central America is Manuel Antonio. Its National Park is often considered by travellers to be the most beautiful location in all of Central America, and it is easy to see why. There, we reside high on the clifftop with a spectacular view of the lush forest canopy and the ocean stretching out beyond. From whitewater rafting the rapids on the Naranjo River to strolling along the palm-lined beaches, and decompressing in a relaxed atmosphere, students have time to reflect on their experience, and complete their final assignments and Individual Study Units. After our finals, students enjoy a beach celebration before preparing for their journey home.

Departure from Manuel Antonio (Day 50)

What’s Included?

 

Program Fee Includes Program Fee Does Not Include
Program Costs

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • $95 Registration Fee
  • Custom course pack
  • Student Login
  • MEI journal
  • Digital yearbook
Travel Costs

  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
  • Return airfare from Toronto’s
  • Pearson International Airport
  • Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach`
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions
Extra Costs

  • Lunches
  • Insurances
  • Gratuities
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection*

*All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

What’s Included?

Program Fee Includes
Program Costs

  • Ministry-approved credit(s) upon successful completion of the course(s)
  • $95 Registration Fee
  • Custom course pack
  • Student Login
  • MEI journal
  • Digital yearbook
Travel Costs

  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Breakfast and dinner daily
  • Entrance fees to all course-specific sites
  • Return airfare from Toronto’s
  • Pearson International Airport
  • Approximate airline departure taxes, surcharges and fees
  • Transportation between hotel locations via private coach`
  • Transportation for all listed program excursions
Program Fee Does Not Include
Extra Costs

  • Lunches
  • Insurances
  • Gratuities
  • Course texts
  • Medical Insurance and Cancellation Protection*

*All students travelling with MEI Academy are required to purchase Medical Insurance.

Caye Caulker

Days 2–6

San Ignacio and Placencia, Belize

Days 7–10

Flores, Guatemala and the Ruins of Tikal

Days 11–20

Antigua, Guatamala

Days 21–23

La Fortuna and Monteverde, Costa Rica

Days 24–33

Montezuma, Costa Rica

Days 34–42

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Days 43–50

Ready to take the next step?

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