Today was the much anticipated aquatics day! SIFTers got to use their water testing skills to test the water of two different freshwater ecosystems, Wolf Run Lake and Brush Creek. Along with water testing, the students also fished for macroinvertebrates with nets and got to walk around in the creek (actually getting their feet wet!). They took the Wilderness Wagon from Wolf Run where they also got to meet a friendly terrestrial animal (a charming box turtle), as well as witness some monster catfish during a fish feeding. Next stop was the trail house for lunch, and then down to Brush Creek. At the creek the students discovered different creatures than those living at Wolf Run, such as crawfish and a rare look at a darter minnow in full mating colors. Once again on the Wilderness Wagon, the students returned to Dana Brown to debrief and interpret their findings.
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.