Session 3 of SIFT started out much like Session 1 except for the fact that it was about 20 degrees hotter. But these students didn't let that stop them! The morning started out as usual with some getting-to-know-each-other activities which produced some very interesting results (for once Lydia wasn't the only gardener!). So after a lovely morning spent getting to know one another, learning about outdoor safety, and discussing wether or not science is complete the kids also got a chance to practice their nature sketching! Catrina led a talk over how to do quick sketches that could still be recognizable later, a skill many people overlook and live to regret doing so. Lunch was then had, and then the real fun began. Aileen taught a crash-course in GPS units (not the car kind) and compasses while Catrina taught the SIFTers all about topographic maps and what they can learn from them. Our students were then divvied up into 6 teams, given directions, and then sent out into the wilderness to... navigate! While the first three groups got a head start, the other three got the chance to put together a large wooden puzzle, blindfolded. Oh don't give us that look! Only half of them were blindfolded, the others helped them put it together. All 6 teams successfully made it to the trail house using their recently accuired navigation skills with only a few wrong turns here and there, and were met with cold lemonade and posters. The groups all complied lovely lists of the skills they learned, content they covered, and ways in which they collaborated (the first on the list being tick removal. Yay teamwork!). Then after making up short stories using vocabulary words (oh that Turkeytoe!) our brave, hot, and weary SIFTers headed for home.
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.