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, October 6, 2009

SIFT Water Quality Monitoring Projects

There have been several water quality monitoring projects this summer, both at Shaw Nature Reserve and at Forest Park. Students practiced the skills in evaluating biotic and abiotic factors they learned during the week of field training, and learned new skills like measuring water velocity and using a kick net.

Monday, October 5, 2009

SIFT Grasshopper Survey

Another project surveyed Shaw Nature Reserve's grasshoppers. In this project, students netted grasshoppers from meadows, prairie, glade and woodland areas of the reserve (some using Kaleb's unique spinning technique). After lunch, representatives of each species were examined under stereoscopes, identified, and pinned for curation.

SIFT Dragonfly Surveys

After the week-long summer program, SIFTers had a chance to participate in projects that took place during the rest of the summer and into the fall. One of these projects was a survey of Shaw Nature Reserve's dragonflies. Students used binoculars to spot the dragonflies and get a closer look to identify them. We travelled from the Dana Brown wetlands to Wolf Run Lake, and took a look at some of the fields and prairies as well. At Wolf Run Lake, one slaty skimmer dragonfly was particularly unlucky to have been caught by a mantis. The last photo shows a spangled skimmer, one of the least common of the dragonflies we identified during the survey.