Science Trip of a Lifetime

Snorkelling among sea lions and giant tortoises was among many highlights of Haileybury’s Senior School Science tour to the Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.

The 24 students spent part of their Christmas holidays on what they described as an awe-inspiring trip of a lifetime, experiencing amazing local wildlife and cultures.

Hosted by a remote indigenous community, they travelled by motorised canoe along the magnificent Amazon River and trekked through primary forest, traversing and surveying the rich flora and fauna.

The Galapagos offered a wildlife extravaganza. Like Charles Darwin in the 19th century, the students and their teachers island hopped and explored the region by boat.

While snorkelling, they interacted with wildlife including sea lions, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and, of course, the islands’ most famous inhabitants—giant Galapagos tortoises.

With our Middle School students visiting NASA, it was decided that this trip would have a Biology theme due to the high numbers taking that subject. It was also open to other students.

The Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands are among the world’s most biodiverse locations, making them perfect to observe nature in its element and learn about Biology at first hand.

The Galapagos have direct curriculum links to Year 10 Science and Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Biology with the study of evolution and the islands’ famous finches.

During his visits, Darwin noticed that the birds varied from island to island, which helped him to develop his theory of natural selection.

The trip also incorporated a social justice element. Before they left, students held a fundraising barbecue to buy school supplies for their host Kichwa community in the Amazon and the Villa Ticca daycare centre for underprivileged young mothers in Quito.

What the Students Said 

“It was an amazing experience to visit and stay with the locals in the Amazon and to see what they do, what they eat and how they live. Visiting the Galapagos was probably the highlight. We luckily had the chance to swim with and see turtles, reef sharks, manta rays, seahorses, blue-footed boobies and seals.”

Ava Tan (Year 12)

“[It was the] most amazing trip of my life. [I’m] still in love with all the people and animals we saw. [The] best part was getting to spend time with a community in the Amazon and getting to experience its entirely different day-to-day life, taking part in traditional rituals and spending time with the kids.”

Holly Johnstone (Year 11)

“My heart has never been so full after meeting the little girls in the Amazon, seeing their smiles from ear to ear when they have nothing compared to us. Something that I will never forget.” 

Maddison Butterworth (Year 11)

“Being so far from home and seeing such beautiful and exotic places really taught me how different the world is from what we are … used to and take for granted. It has made me see just how privileged we really are to be living in a county like Australia, and to be going to a school like Haileybury. A true eye-opening experience … for all of us.”

Ben Muretic (Year 12)