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, June 22, 2015

SIFT Training Week 2015 - Day 1

This week is the training week for Cohort 8 of SIFT! Cohort 8 boasts 30 SIFTers from 14 schools, and they all made it to day one, where they started off the week getting to know each other and getting comfortable at Shaw.

We started the day with an overview of Shaw and what to expect during the week, then moved outside for some icebreakers. Our discussion of field safety began with seeing who shared our opinions on what falls in our comfort, challenge, and panic zones and ended with examining live ticks in plastic boxes. Dr. James Trager gave a presentation on what exactly field biology means, and the SIFTers got to know each other more over lunch. After lunch, everyone got some practice with GPS units, navigating with a compass, and reading topographical maps before being sent out into Shaw to complete a challenge course in small groups.

SIFT Instructor Aileen Abbott starting the discussion of comfort, challenge, and panic zones
Sharing what experiences take us out of our comfort zones and seeing who agreed. Those who felt similarly challenged stepped into the larger ring representing the challenge zone, and if the experience might cause them to panic, they stepped into the middle ring representing the panic zone. Sometimes seeing that you're not alone in feeling challenged or panicked can help encourage you to step out of your comfort zone.
Learning the SIFT personalized snack system
Learning how to use the GPS units
SIFT program director Lydia Toth giving some GPS instructions that will be very important during the challenge course
This seems like a great group of SIFTers, and we're all excited to get to work with them over the coming week and year.

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