Tuesday's theme was all about observation. In the morning Catrina talked about how to do field sketches and had the students practice sketching natural items in smaller and smaller time increments (much to the dismay of the artists). After the sketching lesson was over, Lydia broke out the isopods and the SIFTers got to practice taking good observation notes about both appearances and behaviors. The morning wrapped up with the creation of their own branching and stacking dichotomous keys for leaf identification. After lunch, the students broke into groups and rotated around to different water testing stations. Based on a simulated scenario the teams used various water quality tests to determine the source of each station's water problem. The day wrapped up with a comparison of results from the different stations and a debrief of the day. Not to mention a reminder to bring shoes that could get wet for the next 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.