So Monday started bright and early with the arrival of the SIFTers and the distribution of their day packs. They were welcomed by Lydia with a quick overview of the week and some games in which students were able to find out what they have in common. Aileen gave a talk about outdoor safety and then it was time for lunch.
After lunch was over the students were given a crash course in using GPS units, compasses, and topographic maps. After their lessons in navigation, the SIFTers were broken up into groups and were each given a different course through Shaw, which required them to use their recently acquired navigation skills. Along their little adventure they encountered some challenges (ticks, mosquitoes, upside-down maps), unexpected treasures (tepee, cave, long abandoned outhouse) as well as several stations where they sketched or learned about a part of Shaw Nature Reserve. The day wrapped up at the Trailhouse where the kids debriefed and brainstormed the skills, collaboration, and content they gained that day.
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.