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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SIFT Session 1 Day 1 Recap

I thought it might be useful to actually recap the schedule of activities from yesterday before moving on to Day 2. Last night I was mainly concerned with mastering photo uploading and forgot to give the day's schedule.

9:30 Welcome and overview - all staff introduced (Tim, Aileen, Katie, Kathi, Susan, James, Lydia); brief overview of the week (Lydia)
9:40 Get acquainted activites - focus on collaboration, what do you bring to the group? (Lydia)
10:10 Orientation to the site - map of SNR, "Rules" of conduct, logistics of site (restrooms, water sources, etc.) (Lydia)
10:15 Outdoor safety - awareness of non-friendly MO plants and animals (ticks, poison ivy, etc.), hydration, sun exposure, heat exposure; "Comfort Zone" vs "Challenge Zone" vs "Panic Zone" (Tim)
11:00 SIFTer supplies - binders, field notebooks, day packs, water bottles, etc. (Lydia)
11:25 Intro to field biology - what is it, why do we need field biologists, is science "finished" or is there more to learn (James)
12:00 Lunch break
12:30 Skill session - SIFTers separated into four groups with each group learning a new set of skills; map reading (Lydia), compass skills (Aileen), GPS (Tim), field equipment (radio, light meters, soil thermometers, etc.) (James)
1:00 Collaborative groups - SIFTers jigsawed into six collaboratives with each member contributing a different set of new skills (Lydia); personal gear loaded onto truck for transport to Trail House
1:30 Outdoor Challenge - each SIFTer group must make their way from the Dana Brown Center to the Trail House using the skills learned in the earlier session; goals include collaboration, using the skills taught, getting to know the site, using field notebooks (Lydia)
3:30 Debriefing at the Trail House - focus on the collaboration piece; introduce reading/passage for the next day (Tim/Aileen)
4:00 Bus loads up

I cannot believe how well the first day went. Outside of the bus snafu first thing in the morning, the day's activities went smoothly and without any significant issues. This group of teens showed maturity, enthusiasm, and cooperation! It is unusual to have such a strong group of high school students together in one educational setting. The instructors are having the time of their lives!