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.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SIFT Training Week 2015 - Day 3 (Aquatic Day!)

As per tradition, the third day of the SIFT training week was focused on aquatic systems. The cohort split in two, half of them visiting Brush Creek in the morning and Wolf Run Lake in the afternoon, and the other half doing the opposite. Both groups performed water quality tests at the sites and sampled for organisms in the habitat, recording richness (number of species) and abundance (number of individuals of each species) in their field notebooks. They used these numbers and the species they found to predict whether the systems were healthy or polluted. Good news -- both groups agreed they are healthy!

SIFTers test the water quality at Brush Creek
Biotic sampling at Brush Creek
A SIFTer examining the diversity captured by the sampling at the creek
Water quality testing at the lake
Biotic sampling at the lake was done by dragging these coffee cans through the water. Mesh at the bottom kept any organisms the SIFTers happened to find in the can.
Dragging for aquatic organisms
A SIFTer caught a fishing spider! It was a big hit. Besides being interested in the large spider itself, everyone was intrigued by the shadows it made on the bottom of the container.
Identifying the organisms they found at the lake
Even though sampling in the St. Louis summer can be hard work, all of the SIFTers seemed to thoroughly enjoy Aquatic Day. They stayed focused, asked questions, and were fully transparent about their interest in the organisms they were finding. We couldn't be more happy with this cohort!

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