Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Crave the Data


Since seeking answers to our curious observations is the basis of scientific knowledge, the principle project and the majority of our time this unit was spent on original scientific research projects.

We began our projects five weeks ago, when we devoted an afternoon to asking questions. As we tromped and meandered on the mud flats overlooked by the field where we solo every morning, we recorded any and every curiosity that the natural world swayed our minds to wonder. Loaded with a list of inquiries, we came together as a group to brainstorm which questions were interesting and feasible to pursue as research projects. 

At the end of the day, four driving questions emerged as our four research projects:


1) What is the abundance and diversity of organisms living in the mud flats?

2) Where are mircoplastics concentrated in coastal Freeport, ME?

3) How does road noise affect bird calling behavior?

4) How do different water sources affect bioluminescence in dinoflagellates?

In preparation for our data collection week, we spent lots of in-class time researching relevant scientific literature found from on-line academic databases, writing a first draft of an introduction, preparing data collection materials, and discussing how to best function as a group. To practice and critically think about relational power, we prepared an AMT (Agreement of Management Timeline) with our group members, which detailed the logistics of our projects – from what our driving hypotheses were to what each group member would specifically contribute to the group.

We then spent every afternoon collecting data to answer our research questions. While each group was met with challenges ranging from collecting run-off water instead of water with varying salinity to hitting a steep learning curve to identify bird calls to wearing boots with troublesome new holes, every group collected a serious amount of data in four days.

 Data in hand, we worked with Excel and statistical programs to scientifically answer our curiosities through analyzing and graphically representing our data. We used the remaining week to write and revise individual scientific research papers and to create research presentations.

We celebrated our research and time creating new knowledge about the natural world by presenting our research presentations last Friday, April 25th at the Freeport Community Center. Thank you all for coming and for watching our presentations live on our first CSG video feed!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Widening Perspectives

As we wrapped up the “Observation” unit in Coastal Adventure class last week, the CSG girls widened their perspectives on all fronts, from interpreting the environment to interpreting a poem.