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I’m entirely unsure where the last month and a half have gone, but it has certainly been a productive time! Our vacation week in Santa Cruz and Isabela was lovely. On the return trip from Isabela, we met up with Karen in Santa Cruz for a few days before heading back to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Since our return, we’ve been teaching the Lava students methods of data input. As it’s sometimes pretty boring to teach students how to input data into Excel, we were a bit nervous for these lessons. The nerves were not needed- the students picked up data entry quickly and with the same enthusiasm as they approach observations. We spent last Wednesday teaching the students how and what to enter into spreadsheets. Friday was spent teaching the students to organize and back up photos on the SD cards. Yesterday, I met with four of the students in the IB classroom to go through data input from the last observation while Maddie, Kelly, and Karen went with the students to the beaches to run the protocol.

Unfortunately, it would ultimately take too much time for the students to go through and enter all of the data that they collect. One student simply cannot be expected to input 9 front-and-back sheets worth of data from the previous session in 90 minutes. The students would likely fall behind on data input, and maintaining organization with a backlog of data is always a challenge and never ideal. It was also troublesome to split the students to have one at the school and the rest on the beaches. So, to confront these issues, data input will be simplified and conducted at the beach moving forward. The teachers will bring the laptop with them to the beach. One student will organize and backup the photos from the previous observation session while the other students are taking data at Playa de Zona Naval. Included in these photos will be pictures of the data sheets. The data can then be entered into the excel sheet when the photos reach Penn. This process of organizing photos should not take too much time, and the student should be able to rejoin the observation at Playa de Oro or Playa Mann. We will take tomorrow to re-teach the students this change and to cover a few slight changes and reminders about the protocol itself. The time spent teaching students to input the data, though, certainly was not wasted. It is incredibly important for students to be exposed to every step of the process, from protocol design and troubleshooting to data input and analysis.

Our role for the next 10 days is to ensure that the Lava project can continue smoothly when we leave. After the challenges associated with data input are resolved, this should be relatively easy. There are a few tasks, like charging and bringing the technology and materials, that will fall to Luisa and Alfredo. Little details like who is bringing what materials and what is to be done with those materials after the observations are our biggest concern now. To make sure that we have addressed the day-to-day issues, we will essentially pretend that we aren’t here next week. Wednesday and Friday will be run entirely by the students and teachers. We’ll just be there to troubleshoot, answer questions, take pictures, and make sure that the photo organization protocol is clear.

Our other projects have also been going well. We’ve done 20-odd interviews, the photography class has presented their best photos with great success, and guide training preparation is ongoing. It’s becoming more and more difficult to ignore the fact that we only have 10 days left on the island. We have a lot to do in that time, but we also want to leave space for time spent watching sunsets, sitting on the beach, and a final snorkel or two! With limited time left, each moment is becoming more and more precious.

Hasta Leugo,