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Ferndale HS Senior Learns from STEM Field Trip to Central America

Ferndale HS Senior Learns from STEM Field Trip to Central America

(Lara Mossa, May 11, 2019)

Oak Park, MI – This spring 18-year-old Ryann Reese of Oak Park had the chance to see exotic animals, hike up a volcano, and go kayaking for the first time. You would think she was on a great family vacation. But she wasn’t – she was on a school field trip.

“I thought this would be a great trip to go on because of my interest in animals and nature,” said Reese, a senior at Ferndale High School. “I think it was really fun. I got to learn about different species of animals.”

Reese, who has an avid interest in animal science, was one of 27 high school students to go on this year’s STEM field trip. Open to ninth- through 12th-grade students with an interest in careers involving science, technology, engineering and math, this year’s group went to Panama and Costa Rica.

An annual event, the project includes students from Ferndale High School, Berkley High School and the International Academy. Besides 27 students, several teachers and adult chaperones went on this year’s trip, which was held during spring break in April.

“It really allows us to extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom,” said Alison Maes, one of the organizers and a science and biology teacher at Ferndale High School. “I think this is experiential learning at its very best.”

Students get to try new things, learn about other cultures and step out of their comfort zone, she added.

“One of the biggest benefits is that there are three schools that go together, so students learn new perspectives and make new friends.”

Among other adventures, the students visited the Panama Canal and learned about the physics and hydrology of the lock system; they went to a coffee plantation to see how coffee is grown and processed; they hiked up the Arenal volcano; and they learned about plasma engine technology and the use of hydrogen as a fuel source at the Ad Astra Rocket company. Also, during the 10-day trip, they enjoyed snorkeling, kayaking and white-water rafting.

First coordinated by Adina Rubenstein, a Berkley High School biology teacher who used to teach in Ferndale, this was the fifth year for the STEM field trip. Besides Panama and Costa Rica, students have gone to Europe, California, the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest. Next year, participating students will go to Italy.

To help pay for the $3,500 per student fee, Reese did many fundraising projects such as a bottle drive, candy sales and running concession stands. The daughter of Carolyn Hutchinson and Richie Reese, she is also part of the tennis and swim teams and National Honor Society. She plans to go to North Carolina A&T in the fall.

Reese, who works at Madison Veterinarian Hospital, encouraged other students to take part in the experience. She enjoyed seeing a wide range of flora such as mimosas and orchids and fauna including sloths, geckos and monkeys.

“I think it was really good,” she said. “One of the things I did enjoy was the boat ride we went on because our tour guide was able to easily point out different animals that none of us have seen.”

Learn more about STEM Programs at Berkley Schools and Ferndale Schools.

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