This educational collaboration between Washington University's Tyson Research Center and the Missouri Botanical Garden's Shaw Nature Reserve is designed to engage St. Louis area high school students in scientifically-based exploration of the natural world. Linked programs of field training (SIFT) and field research (TERF) provide teenagers with experiences that realistically reflect research in environmental biology. Participating teens learn a variety of field investigation skills and then have the opportunity to put those new skills to work assisting career scientists with real research projects.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Digging Deeper into Blog Design, Plus Project Status

Today I'm going to try to spend some time figuring out all the bells and whistles on this thing. It does not seem too hard to navigate between all of the features and options.

I would like to have a permanent description of the ISE project on the front page so I'll try to make that happen first. One major challenge will be getting to my files for the text. (The barrier of the stolen computer yet again. New one is now on order!)

I would also like to get links to both Tyson and Shaw up here somewhere and so I will need to learn how to make hot links. Shouldn't be too difficult. Blogger seems to have thought of everything needed for a blog build and it looks like they are adding new options all the time.

So, what is the status of the ISE project itself?
Definitely off and running, especially since the funding came through. I was rather pleased that all of the partners in this project were committed to moving forward in the absence of external funding, but it sure will make our lives easier to have the funding! Hopefully the excited vibe will continue to exist as we get closer to summer and the first bit of student programming at Shaw.

The first two curriculum development meetings for the Shaw Institute for Field Training (SIFT) component went very well. The Shaw instructors appear to understand exactly what needs to be included in the week-long summer experience to embody the project vision and meet the project goals. And they have come up with a strong schedule of linked activities and investigations. There was a good feeling of synergy and collaborative spirit in the room during both meetings. We have decided that the word "collaboration" is the underpinning theme for the week and we are going to try to remember to refer to the participant groups as "collaboratives" rather than teams. I'm impressed by the Shaw collaborative (!) and can't wait to see them in action this summer.

I am starting to see applications come in before the deadline of April 18, which is a good sign that the recruitment strategy (e-mail blitz) worked. I am seeing responses from schools in St. Louis County and St. Louis City, and have gotten a couple from MICDS. And I fielded my first parent phone call this morning from Central VPA HS (SLPS). The word is definitely out, but the question is, are there students interested in the program? Fingers crossed... Lydia and I will talk tomorrow to decide if we need to make another recruitment push.

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