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

Terrestrial Ecosystems and Overnight

Today we looked at different terrestrial ecosystems. James talked about the different kinds of plant life that were likely to be in the areas we would look, and then the SIFters went to to survey plants in the prairie, glade, and woodland. To do the surveying, the students got to practice their hula-hooping skills (throwing, not twirling) and took core samples of the earth from each survey plot. After compiling charts and graphs of the data they gathered, the students talked about the best ways to display data with Catrina.

The SIFTers watched a video about James' specialty, ants, in preparation for Friday and then had some time to move into their cabins and unwind with a little Ultimate Frisbee.

After Frisbee local scientists arrived for dinner and the students rotated between them in groups to hear about the kind of research they each did. Then we had a wonderful dinner and had more Frisbee time. The SIFTers went on a night hike sans-flashlights and learned some cool tricks with night vision and ice breakers. After getting back to Dana Brown we had a bonfire after a little trouble with lighting it (Thank you Team Monica!) and had s'mores. Before bed, James set up a black light sheeting, which attracted this lovely little creature, a female dobsonfly.

After showers everyone toddled off for a nice, calm evening... no wait. There was of course the mandatory talking, card games and well, sleep was had.

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