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Kamloops students pack for biology trip of a lifetime

Teens to visit land of the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa Brady, principal at NorKam secondary, sees the trip as having more than a basic science value as the students have had to learn about currency exchange and getting a passport.
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Teens to visit land of the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa

Brady, principal at NorKam secondary, sees the trip as having more than a basic science value as the students have had to learn about currency exchange and getting a passport.

They will be exposed to a new environment, even some new foods, when they arrive in Hawaii on Feb. 6.

The focus is biology, though, said teacher Eric Rustand, who has done all the planning and prepping to take the 23 students in grades 11 and 12.

The NorKam contingent will be joined by Valleyview students, who crossed the Pacific on a similar journey last year.

Among the experiences the students will have, Rustand said, is a visit to Hanauma Bay, where they will be able to experience fish and marine life, including the Hawaiian green sea turtles, trumpet and angel fish, moray eels, urchins and perhaps even the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the state’s official fish.

They will head to a marine lab and take part in a variety of experiments and go to an aquarium and a zoo.

Students will also hike through some of the unique flora, fauna and forests found in Hawaii.

In short, Rustand said, it’s not a trip for slackers, noting students had to be given permission from their teachers to take part — and that was only given if they have shown a dedication to learning biology.

As Brady put it, these are “not students who have found a way to float through the system.

“Every time some people talk about kids today, they talk about how they’re lazy or unmotivated they are,” Brady said.

“These are kids who are engaged in their own learning.”

Unlike prepackaged trips available to students — at a pricey cost — Rustand has done all the organizing for his students to keep the costs down. Still, it’s about $1,600 for the week and students have spent a lot of time fundraising to pay their way.

Rustand believes in learning by experiencing and takes his students on annual excursions to the Vancouver Aquarium and Telus World of Science.

For many students, he said, the Hawaii trip will be an eye-opening moment because they haven’t been there before and will be in awe of what they will see and learn.

And it’s come a long way from when Rustand was a high-school student in Merritt.

Asked what kind of trips he was exposed to, he had to think for a few moments.

“The only trip we went on was to Vancouver Island for a forestry class. Nothing like this.”