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.

Friday, June 17, 2016

SIFT Training Week - Day 5 (It's all about ants!)

This morning, students had the opportunity to study ant behavior. After some general information about the test procedures, students were given two types of bait; a cantaloupe rind and a Pecan Sandy cookie. They also had an identification chart of the ants that were most common to the area. Their instructions were to set up their bait in several places around the center and to observe and record what happened. Which ants come to the bait first? Do they recruit other ants? What happens when two species encounter each other? Do they fight or does one species get chased off?

Observing ant behavior
After a morning of observation, the students were tasked with coming up with a researchable question about ants and then asked to design a research project around their question. Some of the questions that intrigued them most involved food choices, reaction to different light sources, and the effects of heat on life cycle development. Their presentations generated interesting conversation and everyone left with a better understanding of ants!

Before ending the week we celebrated our first  week of SIFT with ice cream sundaes. A great way to end a very hot but exciting week!

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