Intraterm: Baja

Originally Published in Tuesday News February 21, 2017
We live in a bubble. Geographically, culturally, climatically, our “Happy Valley” is relatively insulated. And while this is a conscious choice for many, and even a hard-earned point of pride celebrated and envied over social media, gaining a broader perspective can be difficult–especially for children who know only this.

Welcome to Intraterm. During this week-long program held in February, all 9th-12th grade students choose a course of study designed and led by VMS faculty to simultaneously enrich the regular curriculum, serve as a catalyst for intellectual curiosity, and broaden one’s world view. All other classes are put on hold for the week.

Intraterm classrooms took many forms including a remote island in Mexico, which is the focus of the reflection below written by science teacher and trip leader, Steph Lewis.

“Our intraterm brought a wonderful mix of exploration, scientific inquiry, and adventure.  We spent five days on a remote island in the Sea of Cortez, camping on the beach each night and exploring our environment each day. Our focus was learning about the marine invertebrates, which are an indicator of ocean health. The area we were staying in has undergone various protection measures in the last few decades, and scientists seek to better understand the effects of those measures through invertebrate surveys and Environmental DNA, which can track which organisms have passed through an area within in the last 1-3 weeks. After a few days learning more about the marine life and the local environment, we spent a day doing transect surveys in specific locations where past groups have collected data. We swam 50 meter lines and tracked the invertebrates on each side, and collected EDNA. These surveys will be compared to previous years in different management zones by local scientists. We also celebrated our experiences by swimming with sea lions, tracking babisuris (little raccoon-like mammals on the island), and playing frisbee on the beach at sunset. During down time and low tide, we walked out into the rocks to look at the starfish, brittle stars, urchins, slugs, and sea cucumbers. The students were so excited to see and learn about the different organisms and the unique landscape and oceanscape that we found on and around the island.”
>>PHOTOS: Baja Intraterm

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.