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, September 28, 2009

Terrestrial Ecosystems and Overnight

We started the day with a short powerpoint about scientific communication and the three basic characteristics of good figures (clear! concise! honest!). Next James gave students an overview of terrestrial ecosystems and described plant forms and leaf shapes that the students would have a good chance of observing. Then we took a short trip out to the Dana Brown Center's prairie, where students in small groups got to practice the hula-hoop method of random sampling, and take a closer look at the plant life there. After lunch, it was back out the the Trailhouse where we did the same sort of sampling and looked at the plant life of the glade and woodland.

Tonight was the overnight, so after debriefing the day's activities, students moved into the lodges and had a break to read, talk, and play games (soccer!). Before dinner, scientists from Tyson Research Center arrived and the students had a chance to travel around in groups and get to know them better. Conversations continued during dinner. After dinner, students went out without flashlights on a night hike, which ended up being one of the group's favorite June memories. When the hikers returned, James had set up a white sheet and light to collect night insects. There was also a campfire where SIFTers could continue to get to know each other while eating S'mores.

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