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, June 18, 2010

Ants, Ants, Ants!

The final day of SIFT Session 1 had finally arrived. After a breakfast filled with bleary-eyed SIFTers, it was James' time to shine. Students were broken up into groups and were given bait as well as a guide to help identify different species of ants. The teams set off to bait and observe the ants as they arrived to take away the food. The better part of the morning was spent observing ants. Who knew they were so intriguing (other than James of course)?

After lunch, Catrina led a discussion about how to set up your own experiment. Using what they had learned about ants, the SIFTers then split up and had a go at designing their own experiments and then going over them as a group to fine tune them.

Lydia talked about signing up for projects over the year, and after cleaning up the cabins the students wrapped up their SIFT experience with an ice cream bar before much exchanging of emails and planning of get togethers.

In some cases, it wasn't just the ants that were being observed. Kathi, mistress of the surveys, enjoyed watching the SIFTers as much as they enjoyed watching the ants!

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