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.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Plant Sorting 101, The First SIFT Work Day

 Even though the second week of SIFT is still in progress, the SIFT work days have already begun! The eager Tyson Prairie team was excited to bring out a group of SIFTers last Monday and Tuesday for some plant sorting. The SIFTers job was to sort out the numerous plants from small samples of experimental prairies By sorting the plants into the different types, the researchers can see how much biodiversity there is in each of their 102 plots on Tyson.

The work day began with a short presentation by researcher Tiffany Knight about the large scale prairie project. SIFTers were then taken to the prairie to see just how large the project really is. Once the short trip was finished, everyone headed back to the Living Learning Center to start the sorting.

TERFer Tom Collins talks to the SIFTers about the work he does with the Prairie Team.

The first task was to weigh the bag before the plants were sorted.

Johannes Shrader and  Suraj Puvvada get ready to weigh their samples.

Adam Vorel and Maddie Herries working together to weight out the plot samples.

Next, the SIFTers had to sort the plants into different groups: grasses, forbs, Lespedeza, litter, and more.

 George Garner and Liyang Gu sort through prairie plants in the LLC classroom

Once all the plants were sorted, they were re-bagged according to their species. Each bag would be dried and reweighed for the total bio mass later on.

Becky Chen after a long day of plant sorting.

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