Natural Science Class strikes back!

We shelved the explosive natural science course back in February; as it turned out, five classes a week in the library is a little overwhelming for kids. But when school got out a few weeks ago and our summer volunteers arrived, we thought the third attempt might be the trick!

We decided to structure the class as follows: one class per week, from 4-6 on Tuesdays, focusing on environmental and agriculture education. Summer volunteers Jen and Mae helped to spearhead the course; although the first class resulted in a bunch of no-shows, their more successful second class was spent learning about the importance of trees and classifying the flora around the cancha, followed by a lesson on gardening at Fundacion Añamisi.

We spent the third class exploring the nature reserve of Pasachoa (that massive mountain that takes up most of the valley's skyline; a few of us climbed it back in January). We traveled to Amaguaña with 14 kids in tow, including Christian, one of our regular teens, Jen Mae, and me. After picking up our naturalist guide, we headed into the park; Mariella gracefully explained the flora and fauna within the park, pointed out crisp and clear streams that slither down from Cotopaxi's glacier, and taught them about the importance of conservation in Ecuador. While we gathered at the entrance, we ran into a reporter for El Commercio, the major newspaper in Quito. She interviewed us about MPI and our work, and we'll be looking out for the weekly edition to see if we made the cut!

The boys enjoy the view from our camioneta ride into the park

Yes, running up and down a hill 20 times actually IS enjoyable

Inspecting the crystal clear waters of the stream

Jen, Mae, Me and our troops

I have really enjoying planning paseos for the kids in the library and I really hope next year's PDs continue to organize them! Note: by next year I actually mean next week; the 2010-2011 E-team is currently in Miami beating Nicaragua, and maybe even Guatemala, at every game possible to keep up our legacy alive...

until next time,


The past few weekends have been chock full of travel, field trips, and adventures; perhaps it's the rapidly approaching summer volunteer arrival date that has influenced us to cram in as many activities as possible. In the month of April we have collectively and separately gone on a retreat, traveled to Cuenca, climbed Illinizas Norte, been proposed to (okay fine, that was just Haley), got lost trying to exit the largest inhabited crater in South America and attended three community youth-focused day trips. Since Erik mentioned one of the teen outings in his guest blog last week, I'll stick to reporting on the kids' paseo and This past Saturday's hike up Ilalo with the teens.

The kids' paseo for April was to el parque la Carolina's dinosaur museum with about 15 kids in-tow. Since the museum itself is only open on weekends, when I went to investigate a few weeks ago I wasn't allowed to see the facilities. As it turns out, the museum is really more of a badly-staged Jurassic Park set; the presentation included a 25-minute tour moving from scene to scene, each featuring a different moving dinosaur or Mega-beast that scared the pants off of pretty much every kid we were with. Although it wasn't quite as educational as I had hoped, the kids enjoyed the theatrics and running around Quito's largest urban park. I think in the future I will search for venues outside of Quito, as transport sucks up most our time, and I really want to start embarking on nature hikes in the valley.

Our favorite twins enjoy a post-tour 'thrill' ride

Iori (in my sweatshirt post-puddle mishap) and Paola in the park

The whole group at the museum entrance

Sticking with the theme of the great outdoors, Mike organized a trip for this teens on Saturday to summit Ilalo, the hill/small mountain about thirty minutes from our house by bus. Mike, Sonia, Chet and I led Joseph, Carlos and Christian up the trail; by led, I mean they ran up most of it as Mike and Chet chased after them and Sonia and I stopped frequently to 'take in the scenery.' When we reached the top in record time, the boys scurried up a 30-foot tall cross and we all took in 360 degree views as far as the eye could see.

Sonia and I at the base of the cross (we were too scared to go further)

The climbing crew in front of a fountain post-hike

Stay tuned later this week for our quarterly update - a succinct summary of our programmatic happenings spanning January through mid-April - and Krysta wc Peterson's interview to be posted later this week! (if you didn't get that middle name reference, don't worry, you will after you see this interview)

until next time,

I Feel Just like a Child

Last Saturday while half of the PDs were showing spring breakers around historical Quito, the rest of us were field-tripping to Quito's interactive science museum. One of the goals of our agriculture and environmental program is to take kids outside of the four walls of the library for science-based paseos (field trips). We do this to expose the kids to nature, help them understand and appreciate the incredible amenities that exist in Ecuador, and to foster creativity and active learning.

Our first trip was a great success, chock full of 10 energetic minds ranging from 6 to 12 years old. The museum hosts three distinct exhibits - the sala de guaguas, the physics hall, and the Quito 2025 exhibit. The guaguas space is especially designed for younger kids, allowing them to hike through the paramo grasses, balance atop plates tectonics, follow life on the farm from soil to almuerzo plate, and dress up as their favorite Andean animals. The physics hall excited the kids with interactive acoustic and mechanics demonstrations as well as a myriad of mind games to challenge their critical-thinking skills. Kids and PDs alike we're enchanted by the space-age cocoon showing how our city will look in 2025 - including the current airport converted into a wildlife park and an enhanced public transportation system.

Leslie flies high to experience life as a Condor

Daniella balances without sight to test her other senses

Vinicio shoots down the paramo slide into the lagoon ball pit below

Some of the kids watching their shadows in the dark room (sorry the flash messed up the picture!)

Krysta and the kids learn how to separate the intertwined metal puzzle

Helping Henry levitate his ball into the top hole

Sonia, Krysta, and Shawn and Jenny with the kids

As we rounded the corner on the bus back to Rumiloma, PDs were exhausted but the kids we're ready for more, asking over and over when the next paseo would be. We're really excited to continue spending time with these kids outside of the library and hope to make next month's destination a naturalist hike through Pasochoa reserve. A special big thanks to Shawn, Sonia, and Krysta for being such fantastic chaperones!