Summer Science Experience takes students to Australia, New Zealand


Empowering. Entertaining. Fun. Social. Amusing. Different. These were the words that senior Lexi Tanghal and Spanish teacher Zeyda Marsh used to describe their explorations during the Science Department’s 10th Summer Science Experience, which took place this past July in Australia and New Zealand.

Through the Education First tour program, the group of 23 students and three chaperones spent 10 days in New Zealand and three days in Australia in order to improve their knowledge of science in the world. The group toured various regions of the southern hemisphere such as Auckland, Hokianga, Russell Island, Sunshine Coast, Surfers Paradise and Sydney. 

 Tanghal’s favorite day on the trip was their visit to Fraser Island in Australia.

“When we got to the island, the sand was white, powdery and soft. The locals said that if you rub it on your skin it would make [it] really smooth so we all rubbed a bunch of it on our bodies. It actually worked and we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing!’” Tanghal said. “[And] you had to squint to see [the water] – it was transparent, crystal clear.”

Junior Hannah Wheeler enjoyed Habitat Noosa in Queensland, Australia.

“I slept in a cabin with wild kangaroos hopping around the grounds and woke up each morning to the unique sound of the kookaburra,” she said. “The air was crisp and you could see the entire Milky Way at night. I noticed the grounds were green and lush as I canoed down the Everglades.”

In order to remember her experiences in the future, senior Abigail (Abbie) Harris journaled after each day of excursions because “pictures don’t do places justice sometimes.”

Harris described their visit to the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves in Hokianga in New Zealand as “easily one of the most amazing, once-in-a-lifetime moments I have ever experienced.”

 “We grabbed our flashlights, or torches as they are called here, and descended into a dark cave filled with low-hanging stalactites,” Harris wrote in her journal. “When our guide instructed us to turn off our lanterns, we looked up at the ceiling of the cave and saw thousands of bright, blue-green lights. We learned all about these worms and were able to get pretty close up to them. A stream ran all the way through the cave, and it was very cold and damp all the way through.”

 In addition to exploring their surroundings throughout each day, students participated in educational activities such as cultural lessons from local Australians and New Zealanders including tasting different foods and “immersing ourselves in their English,” Marsh said.

“It’s just a world apart and a well-rounded education for our students because you learn more on the trips in 15 days than you ever will reading a book. It’s firsthand learning,” she said.

But above all, the trip gave students a way to study science in the real world. 

“After this trip, I’m even more interested in science,” junior Braden Hinz said. “I really appreciate how it built a greater understanding of nature [for me]. I learned how the world works around you and for you.”