Tuesday was a day set aside to observe the noble isopods. SIFTers were given two types of these little critters and set about observing physical and behavioral characteristics. I have never seen so many teenagers looking up into clear ups before in my life, it was truly a sight to behold. Of course, how else cold you get all the details of them! After a discussion of what questions could be researchable and other simply looked up, our students got a chance to stretch their legs with a little excursion to the Wetlands. Aileen led a lovely stroll to observe this interesting habitat and many questions were asked and a few tracks of water-loving mammals found. Then back to the nice air-conditioned Dana Brown to have lunch. A communication kills activity was played, where upon the students had to get into an line alphabetically by their last names. Without talking. Also not being able to step off the rope they were all standing on. It was interesting to say the lest. Then that afternoon our SIFTers learned how to do water testing and had some practice interpreting the what the data could mean for that water source. There was a wildlife encounter for one water-testing group that was cut short (literally) when after FINALLY catching the Blue-Tailed skink that had been slinking around the porch it's tail came off and well, we just didn't have the heart to pass it around to other groups then. He was released to go re-grow his tail and much hope was made that the other skinks wouldn't make fun of him for his shortened rear-end.
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.