We're still working out many of the kinks in our home schooling efforts. One of the things that seems to be working is field trip based learning. So recently we hauled the pod out to La Campana National Park which is in the Vizcachas Mountains about 60 kilometers from where we are staying in Valparaiso.
This was probably the most public transportation we have ever taken for a day trip, so we started out the lesson discussing how to catch the train, how the automated ticketing system works, where to find the bus, and how to find a toilet at a bus station without eating a meal. Since we haven't had a Lonely Planet guidebook with us, we're flying a bit blind relying heavily on our hosts for some advice; stuff like: "I'm pretty sure if you make it past the land of the big tomato to Olmue, you'll find a bus that will get you close to the park. From there, just hike into the park." Our homeschooling lesson continued by a colorful illustration of how to look really clueless on a bus in the middle of no where while butchering a major world language; our illustration rendered perfectly, inspiring a wonderful Chilean gentleman to help us flag down the next ride in our route. This photo below shows the man running away from us as fast as possible, fleeing the half baked field trippers.
Along the way, we continued our lesson discussing what horses eat in the Cordillera de la Costa, apparently smooshed tomatoes from the back of a truck.
And more information on why you might hang a cow skin from the ceiling.
Here was another quick lesson on why National Park's are located on the end of really long dirt roads:
And another one on why you might build a blue shack on top of a well a half mile up from the rangers station.
Ah yes, and the environmental lesson we originally set out on, which was to witness and understand the very unique ecological system of this region in Chile.
So we also spent some time understanding how a plant ecosystem can remain shielded from the world at large (in the case of Chile, huge mountains a short distance to the east, and a big ocean to the west). And of course, we chatted about who this Charles Darwin guy was, since he climbed this mountain during his "Voyage of the Beagle." Darwin was interesting to the kids, in part since Manuel, one of our hosts, while recommending the park, described how he came here with Darwin's great, great, ... great grand daughter, who herself is also apparently a scientist.
So there you have it, a serendipitous field trip based ecological homeschooling lesson on the last of the Jubaea chilensis (Chilean Wine Palm) forests.