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.

Monday, May 19, 2008

SIFT Orientation Session Great Success!

Thank you to everyone that made the SIFT Orientation Session such a great success yesterday! (Lydia Toth, Jon Chase, Kathi Beyer, Barb Addelson, and James Trager)

After dealing with data projection issues and very early attendees, we had smooth sailing. Close to 100 people attended the event on a gorgeous late spring afternoon!

You could feel the excitement as everyone explored the Dana Brown Education Center. Several parents asked if they could attend the overnight during the summer session. What a testament to the unique and comfortable cabins and assembly building. I'm looking forward to spending the night myself...

I'm pleased to report that all of our administrative goals for the session were met. We received back the enrollment forms from the participants, we communicated the project overview, we secured consent/assent forms for the educational research study, we administered the pre-program surveys to both participants and parents/guardians, we got information for planning the summer session bus routes, and most importantly, we met with the families in person.

There were 44 SIFTers in attendance. Two additional SIFTers could not make the event, and five did not show up despite sending a response to attend. So, we do have a little bit of catch up work with those who missed out. If we get final confirmation of participation from all of these, then we will have 51 SIFTers for 2008-09.

I think yesterday quite a bit of reassurance happened on both ends - we were reassured to see the participants show up and the participants and parents were reassured to see the quality of the program, facilities, and staff.

I also have to say that it was really exciting for me to see all of us together presenting a unified project! We had Shaw, Tyson, Science Outreach, and our evaluator all there representing the different parts of the partnership. To quote Col. Hannibal Smith from the A-Team, "I love it when a plan comes together..."