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.

Friday, May 2, 2008

We Have Our First SIFTers

After the short and intensive recruitment drive, we received a total of 50 applications. This was about what I had expected, but apparently significantly more than others thought we could get. I'm pleased to know that my extensive network of St. Louis area biology teachers stepped up to the plate and helped me find good kids. They made me look like a magician!

We also had help from Mary Burke with the Academy of Science-St. Louis, the St. Louis Public Schools, Felix Lui with the St. Louis Science Center Youth Exploring Science program, and Ken Mares with the STARS program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. All of these people showed enthusiasm for the project and passed the information on to teens that they knew would be interested. Amazing that a few well-placed e-mails can have such a large ripple effect. Gotta love the new technological communications age...

After setting up the database and reviewing the application files, we selected 48 participants. All of these kids had strong recommendations from their teachers and their short responses expressed sincere interest in the learning about the natural world through scientific investigation. They are also a great mix of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds.

The acceptance notifications went out yesterday via e-mail and I've already had confirmations from 14. So, we have our first SIFTers! Lydia and I decided to give them until May 9 to respond and confirm participation, so we will know the final numbers in a week.

Getting the pieces of the enrollment package together is next on the To Do list... (Along with a million other things!)