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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TERFers help with St. Louis Box Turtle Project teacher workshop

This past Friday, the turtle team TERFers helped their mentors host a workshop for St. Louis area teachers. The workshop, which hosted 20 teachers from 19 different schools, was designed to give participants access to activities and data from real, ongoing research that could connect students with the natural world in their own backyard.

The TERFers--and one undergraduate TERF alum--helped groups track tagged turtle stuffed animals (it was raining too hard to track the real ones), walked the teachers through an activity that allowed them to visualize and work with real turtle movement data on Google Earth, and played a board game with the participants designed to demonstrate how giant tortoises on the Galapagos can influence plant population dynamics.

Katie (far left) and Briana, a Tyson Undergraduate Fellow, demonstrate how they collect data on a turtle they find

Bailee (far left) holds up the stuffed turtle while Leyna (SIFT and TERF cohort 5, Tyson Undergraduate Fellow) indicates where the width of the turtle is measured

Leyna and Bri help the teachers pull the turtle movement data from Movebank.org and download them into Google Earth. From there, they can calculate step lengths and home ranges for all of the turtles at Tyson and in Forest Park, allowing them to form hypotheses about habitat use and disease transmission.
 
All in all, the day seemed to be a great success, and we hope the teachers found what they learned useful!

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