Ah, Aquatics Day! The much awaited, highly anticipated day where the SIFTers get to get their feet wet. The day where we would be outside virtually all day. They day where the heat index topped 100 degrees. Oh well, didn't stop us! If anything, the heat let the students get more time with our much beloved Wilderness Wagon, the limo of Shaw Nature Reserve. After arriving and filling up snack containers, the SIFTers wasted no time and went to board their sweet ride down to Wolf Run Lake. Here, the students divvied up into 2 groups and tested both the water quality and sampled some of the many macro invertebrates living in the Lake. Special attention was paid to the conditions of the water samples as well as location, and on the biotic side of things a MONSTER fishing spider was captures and put on display until we left (it STILL gives me chills and this was a week ago... it was huge). SIFTers also got a good look at at the fish, most notably the very large catfish, during the fish feeding and then it was off to the trail house for lunch (no air conditioning though, they were too tough for that!). After a nice lunch we all packed off to Brush Creek, where the kids got there feet wet water testing and collecting what seems to be an inexhaustible number of crayfish. The water was nice and cold and I heard more than one murmuring of "Think I could just say I fell in?", but everybody stayed dry for the most part. The day was wrapped up in the nice cool air conditioning of Dana Brown with a debrief and posters compiled of the data collected 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.