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.

Monday, July 21, 2014

SIFT insect sorting at Tyson

Recently, Tyson glade team leader Holly Bernardo hosted a SIFT work opportunity. The SIFTers helped process samples that allow the team to examine how insect communities change in Missouri Ozark glades over time as the glades are being restored.

The team collects samples of insects by using leaf blowers set to reverse to vacuum the ground, sucking up the insects in a particular plot. However, this also sucks up sticks, leaves, and dirt, so processing the samples means that the SIFTers had to go through the piles of stuff collected by the vacuum to find all of the insects in the sample, no matter how small (and some of them are very, very small).

A SIFTer begins to sort through dried grasses to look for any insects
TERFer Sarah Monsey (left) helps oversee and mentor the SIFTers on their work. Since she's been with the glade team for a few weeks, she's now a pro!
Who says looking through dirt for bugs can't be fun?

No comments: