Today, the students thought up an independent research idea, and then developed a hypothesis, designed a study, collected data, analyzed the data, created a presentation, and then presented it. This is basically what scientists do, except instead of doing it over some period of time, the students did it in an intense six-hour period.
We started with Deb in covering some of the basic parameters. The goal was to explore the differences between a younger restoration forest and an older restoration forest. After each student got an idea, they worked with Tim, Mark, Deb, and I to make that into a manageable research design. The students then went out into the woods and got to work.
Here's Jackson measuring light penetration.
Will measuring moss abundance.
Dan measuring the depth of leaf litter.
Ben measuring the diameter of trees to calculate Carbon sequestration.
Danielle measuring basal area.
Ryan looking for flowers, seeds, and fruits.
Lauren measuring soil temperature and moisture.
Isabelle looking for shelf polypores (fungus).
Tori measuring lichens.
Jenna looking for insects.
Olivia looking for insects on tree trunks.
Aidan looking for birds in the canopy top, middle, and bottom. He reported that his neck hurt...a lot :-)
After collecting data, the students worked with us to create presentations of their research and results, typically two PowerPoint slides. Imagine, if you will, the stress of having NO IDEA WHAT TO DO, going through several ideas, making a plan, collecting data, doing summary statistics, making graphs, and then standing in front of their two faculty, one visiting faculty, two guides, and 11 other students presenting. This is not high stakes, but it does give the students a chance to sweat up their arm pits with nervousness. I apologize for some of these photos, but...they're real, not posed.
Will (hope his mom doesn't notice his beard :-)
The presentations were GREAT, and the students were happy to be done and rewarded with a night on the town to go eat wherever they like, and do whatever they want.
View from the research station while folks are getting ready to go. Notice the clouds coming in from the Gulf.
Clouds in the cloud forest.
The camera lightened this picture a bit, but this is Santa Elena at sunset. That tree is right in the middle of the restaurant, and you can sit on the first floor by the trunk, or second floor in the canopy. Though the students split up and went to three different restaurants, oddly enough, every student ordered margherita pizza.
I'll close this post with Aidan yo-yoing. Aidan is a professional yoyoer, and as you can see in this, another of my "amazing Sports Illustrated quality" photos, Aidan is mesmerizing. My favorite is one trick called DNA, where the yoyo spirals making a helix that looks like DNA.
Tomorrow, we have a fun morning of either zip lining in the canopy, or walking through canopy bridges. After that we're on a long road trip to the west to Ostional to get back to work learning about dry forests and coastal ecosystems.