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 13, 2016

SIFT Training Week - Day 1

This week is the training week for Cohort 9 of SIFT! Cohort 9 boasts 27 SIFTers from 19 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 Nature Reserve.

We started the day with an overview of Nature Reserve 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.

Learning how to use a compass

The students were divided into 4 teams and were given different routes.  Teams following the yellow route were able to travel through woodlands and the Meramec River bottomland while those following the green route passed through wetland, tall grass prairie and woodland.

Two routes for the adventure

Teams 3 and 4 before they embark

And they're off......

They were given some tasks to accomplish along the way:
  • document things that you see using your field notebook and camera
  • make sure that everyone in the group is comfortable using all of the equipment
  • be observant
  • have fun!
Some things they saw along the way:



They had to stop along the way to make sure they were traveling in the right direction....

Crossing Brush Creek

They passed through several habitats....



Tallgrass prairie
All groups checked in at the Trail House right on time and were rewarded with some nice cold lemonade.  It was a good first day!

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