Botany Class

Hi everyone !

Yesterday we went to a botanist class. The instructor showed us several plants. One of them looked similar to dragon fruit. The instructor had us break open the dragon fruit looking plant. The seeds inside the fruit are often used for dyes, which we used to paint on ourselves.

He also showed us plants that are commonly used as natural medicines. For example, we were given ginger, mint, and coconut. Each plant had a specific taste and use. The ginger tasted spicy. This is commonly used to cure digestive issues and nausea. The mint tasted fresh and semi-bitter. Mint is used to help calm stomach aches. The class guide also cut coconuts for us to eat and drink. He was explaining to us that coconut water is being studied right now as a treatment to Alzheimer’s.

Sylvan talks about his experiences at the botanist class :

  • I thought the class would be boring, but the guy was actually  very chill. He showed us lots of amazing herbs and fruit. I was interested in them, because it reminds me of traditional Chinese herb medications. We tasted different herbs and learned different uses of them. Then he showed us some different usage of plants that caught my attention. I understood why most leaves shown in class could act like natural bug repellents since they were really hard to swallow despite the fact that they possess a variety of interesting tastes. This made me start thinking about the magnificent relationship between man and nature. After the class, we ate some coconuts and homemade ice cream. They were very sweet and delicious. This class allowed me to gain a better understanding of Costa Rican culture.
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– More to come !



PactuTurtle Reserve: 3/24


It is Monday 3/27. Friday we traveled to the Pacuare Sea Turtle Reserve. Our travels consisted of a 5 hour bus ride and a 30  minute boat ride. The reserve was in a very remote location and consisted of only one building with electricity. During our time at the reserve, we worked on building a turtle hatchery and patrolled for turtles at night. The turtle hatchery is being built to house the turtle eggs that need to be removed from their original location. Turtles sometimes lay their eggs in areas with bacteria in the sand and because of this their eggs will not hatch. The helpers then will move the eggs to the hatchery (which has refined and cleaned sand) in hopes that the eggs will hatch and the turtles will survive. Both nights, we split into groups of three and monitored the beach for turtles laying eggs. The first shift was from 8pm-12am. The second shift was from 10pm-3.30am. The third shift was from 11.30pm-4am. In the event that a group spots a turtle laying eggs, the group will record information. This information includes the length and width of the turtle, marking the turtle with tags, marking the nest, and counting the eggs. Below three people share their experiences with turtle patrolling :

Apple (2nd patrol) :

  • The night was completely different from the day. We walked entirely in the dark at night. It allows you to think and reflect on many things. It is also a good opportunity to talk with your teammates. You can also see the stars and it reminds us about how beautiful nature is. It made me feel very happy to see the helpers so willing to help, even though one of the turtles was being difficult. The helpers even stayed out after the shift time was over to help the turtles. Some of the people were not able to see some things in the dark, so we had to help each other. We did this by holding hands to steady one another and to keep each other from falling. It’s very important that we all work together as a team.

Anna (3rd Patrol) :

  • When we were sitting and listening to the directions for the night adventures to come, we did not realize that it would be in the complete dark. The shift that our group had was from 12 AM to 4 AM, which was the next shocker, but we were very excited and pumped with energy. We all meet at 11:50, and ready to start our adventure in a new environment. Walking on the beach in the dark with my friends was a whole new experience. It took a lot of mental effort to keep our feet moving towards the end of the 4 hours, however, when we found a turtle, we were so excited that we forgot how tired we were. Seeing the very large turtle lay her eggs was an amazing act of nature that we were able to experience. Being able to help collect the data about the turtle was a small act that we realized helped out a lot more than we thought. We are very thankful for the opportunity of a life time, and will keep it in our memory banks to share with our friends and family.

Tom (1st night 1st Patrol&2nd night patrol) :

  • We were thrilled to be Culver’s first turtle patrols, and of course, we had high expectations for the night. Our patrol began with an intriguing turtle dance that mimics the stages of the nesting process. However, the dance didn’t bring us any luck as we saw nothing but tracks. We were really disappointed, especially when we were waken up by the next two group, 3 a.m. in the morning, screaming their exciting encounter with a sea turtle. But we didn’t give up. The next night, we decided to patrol the beach again. Before we even started the turtle dance, we spotted a red light signaling that there’s a turtle. We rushed to the site and saw a giant leatherback sea turtle covering up her nest. We even had an opportunity to help the staff through the tedious process of data collection. As we dragged our feet through the soft sand, guided by the dim lights of the twinkling stars and listened to the sound of the waves and breeze, we realized that seeing a turtle was not that important. Workers throughout the world have contributed thousands of hours, not to see the beautiful sea turtles themselves, but to preserve the nature for the future generations to see.

Update : Traveling

Hello !

Before our departure this morning, we had a Bon Voyage ceremony Sunday evening with the other GPS teams. This meeting was for each team to share their team goals and itinerary for their trip. Afterwards, we took a couple of photos..

C for Culver !GPS Bon Voyage Ceremony 1

This morning the Costa Rica team left campus around 6:30 am. We took a bus to Chicago and flew out of O’ Hare Airport to Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, we are waiting (in Atlanta) for our 5:30 pm flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Below is a couple of photos of the team from this morning !

pic 1pic 2pic 3

Hasta Luego (see you later)!

Lauren Lukac ’18

Getting to Know the Costa Rica 2017 Team

Hi everyone! My name is Lauren Lukac and I’m a Junior in Atrium dorm. For the Costa Rica GPS Trip, I will be updating the blog daily. This first post is to introduce the members of our team! We asked each member of the team a series of questions :

  • What dorm/unit are you in?
  • What grade are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • Why did you choose to go on the Costa Rica GPS trip?
  • What’s one thing you’re looking forward to doing on the trip?
  • What’s one goal you have for this trip?

Meet the team :

  • Mrs. Strobel
    • Mrs. Strobel is from Culver, Indiana. She is going to be traveling with us to Costa Rica as an adult team leader. Mrs. Strobel was asked to be a leader for this GPS trip by the GPS committee. She looks forwards to hiking in the rain forest and the chocolate tour. One goal she has for this trip is for the team to get to know one another and have fun.
  • Dr. Gamel
    • Dr. Gamel is from Culver, Indiana. He is also an adult team leader. He lived in Costa Rica for a year and is looking forward to sharing some of his former country with the Culver students. Dr. Gamel is excited to immerse himself in the culture. One of his goals for the trip is to have a fun and safe trip.
  • Mr. March
    • Mr. March is from a little outside of Detroit, Michigan. He is an adult team leader, as well. He is currently a science teacher at Culver. He chose to go on this GPS trip because he once visited Costa Rica for teacher development and he wanted to bring Culver students there to experience the culture. Mr. March is looking forward to white water rafting and patrolling the beach in Costa Rica. He hopes that students will learn and appreciate the nature of the world.
  • Cailtin Haley
    • Caitlin is a freshman in Benson dorm and is from Mooresville, North Carolina. She wanted to go on this trip because she loves wildlife and warm weather. She is very excited to see the wildlife and make new friends.
  • Callaway Bird
    • Callaway is a junior in Battery A from Sturgis, Michigan. Callaway wanted to go on this trip because he was interested in going somewhere warm for spring break as well as the experience of the overall trip. He is looked forward to zip lining in Costa Rica.
  • Carly Hart
    • Carly is a sophomore from Lafayette, Indiana. She currently lives in Tower dorm. She wanted to go on this trip to make new friends and learn something new. Carly looks forwards to becoming close with her team, helping others, and seeing a sloth.
  • Donghao (Sylvan) Yang
    • Donghao is from Shenzhen, China. He is currently a junior in Company C.
      He chose to go on this trip to see the rainforest. He is looking forward to having a fun trip and tasting new foods.
  • Duo (Sam) Zheng
    • Duo is from Shanghai, China. Duo is a sophomore in Company B. He chose to go on this trip to explore nature, make friends, and help others. He’s looking forward to helping preserve nature.
  • Erin Anderson
    • Erin is a sophomore from Chicago, Illinois. She currently lives in Tower dorm. She wanted to go to Costa Rica to practice her Spanish speaking skills. Erin is excited to experience Costa Rica. She is looking forward to having fun on the trip.
  • Hang (Sunny) Shi
    • Sunny is a junior in tower and is from Beijing, China. She decided to on the Costa Rica trip to see a monkey She is looking forward to white water rafting and hiking. One goal she has is to take plenty of pictures to remember this experience.
  • Izzy Rinehart
    • Izzy is a junior in Court. She is from New Bremen, Ohio. She chose to go on this trip to learn about a different culture and about the biodiversity. She’s looking forward to the new environment. She hopes to build a better understanding of the different culture.
  • Jungwoo (Kevin) Park
    • Kevin is from South Korea. He is a junior in Battery A. He chose to go on the Costa Rica trip to enjoy and experience a unique place. He is looking forward to the exotic environment and making new friends. One goal he has for this trip is to make it an unplugged trip (no phones/electronics).
  • Nikki Maroney
    • Nikki is from New Buffalo, Michigan. She is a senior in Harbor dorm. Nikki wanted to go to Costa Rica because she went on the Belize GPS trip last year and she had a lot of fun. She’s looking forward to zip lining and white water rafting. She looks forward to getting to know others on the trip.
  • Tom Ni
    • Tom is a sophomore in Troop A and is from Shanghai, China. He wants to witness the biodiversity of the rain forest and experience Mesoamerican culture. He looks forward to the service aspect of the trip as well as helping to protect the sea turtles. One goal he has is to practice Spanish in Costa Rica.
  • Tyler Szabo
    • Tyler is from London, Ontario. He is a sophomore in Battery A. He chose to go on this trip to experience the warmth and biodiversity. He is looking forward to seeing turtles and volcanoes. One goal he has is to become a more outgoing person and learn about the culture.
  • Xuanchen (Apple) Li
    • Xuanchen is from Shanghai, China. She is a freshman in Harbor dorm. She chose to go on this trip to experience the rain forest. She is looking forward to taking a lot of pictures on the trip. One goal she has is to learn some basic Spanish.
  • Yutoa Li
    • Yutoa is from Hangzhou, China. He is a junior in Company C. He is interested in the sustainable environment aspect of Costa Rica. On the trip, he is looking forward to the turtles and enjoying the trip.
  • Zhangyuan (Harry) Qin
    • Harry is from Beijing, China. He is a sophomore in Band. He chose to go to Costa Rica to travel somewhere he hadn’t been before and experience something new. He looks forward to practicing his Spanish and learning something new everyday.
  • Zhiyang (Jim) Xu
    • Jim is from Shanghai, China. He is currently a junior living in Band. He chose to go on this trip to help protect the ecosystem and make new friends. One goal he has for this trip is to enjoy the scenes of Costa Rica.
  • Lauren Lukac
    • Lauren is from La Porte, Indiana. She wanted to go on this trip to use her Spanish and she’s never been out of the country. She is excited to make new friends on the trip. One goal she has is to order a meal in Spanish.
  • Anna Nicholson
    • Anna is a sophomore from Lake Forest, Illinois. She is in Tower dorm. Anna chose to go to Costa Rica to help the community as well as see a part of the world she was unfamiliar with. She is most excited to help the children and community with building a new gym. She hopes to make new friends and practice her Spanish skills.