The Science Honor Society of East Islip High School recently organized a drive to send school supplies to the Tomás de Berlanga School in the Galápagos Islands.
A marine reserve and province of Ecuador, the Galápagos has a population of slightly over 25,000. The iconic archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific is renowned for its array of distinctive flora and fauna, whose study by Charles Darwin helped to form his theory of evolution by natural selection.
The Tomás de Berlanga School, named for the European discoverer of the Galápagos, focuses on conservation of the islands’ unique ecosystem. As an alternative to public education in the Galápagos, the school’s funds are predominantly spent on scholarships for needy students, so supplies are scarce.
“I volunteered at the school while I was in the Galápagos for a biology class through Hofstra University,” said East Islip science teacher Genesis Dawson, who spearheaded the school supply drive. The Science Honor Society, supported by the National Honor Society, collected five boxes of stickers, art supplies, flash cards, DVD players, educational DVDs and sports equipment, which were then given to Hofstra professor Russell Burke to take to the Berlanga School on his next Galápagos visit.
“At Hofstra, we have been working with the Tomás de Berlanga School for over seven years,” explained Burke. “They teach a pretty sophisticated K-12 curriculum, but also a healthy dose of environmental reality. Surprisingly, despite how delicate the Galápagos environment is, the standard school system curriculum elsewhere in the islands teaches little about environmental conservation. The Tomás de Berlanga School is training a generation of local conservationists.”