Friday and Saturday, July 28th and 29th, 2017.

Friday and Saturday, July 28th and 29th, 2017

Today is a special blog post, where each student shared the most important thing about their experience, personally and at the group level. The answers they gave are transcribed almost verbatim (ums and extra “likes” deleted).

RK

I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with anyone but this group of 12 people.

For most of my life I have been settled with just enough. I didn’t think I needed anything more than what I already had. But coming to this camp, it honestly shocked me how little I knew. Everyone seemed to be at a higher skill and knowledge level. But this is an incentive to start observing more, to start learning more, to pay attention to my surroundings, and I am glad for it.

ES

When I walked into this camp, I thought I knew a lot about entomology, and now that it’s the last day, I realize there is so much to learn, and I am very excited to learn it.

I feel like we have such good group synergy, we all communicate so well, we speak to each other and we all get along, it makes the camp experience so much better.

KT

This morning I woke up early and sat outside with a good book and a blanket and thought about the entire experience. While I was out there, I was looking around, there was a spider web from the building to the ground. As the sun rose, the web was lit with gold light.

This entire year, I feel like everyone got to know each other, and it was a great experience because throughout the trip, we were able to learn more about each other, and increasingly understand each other’s thirst for knowledge and how their minds work. It has been really cool to see that diversity.

KH

I learned a lot more and I met a lot more people than I thought I was going to. The whole group got along, there was pretty much no tension, everyone could work together well, so we could get our group project done well. There were no fights and everyone cooperated, we got things done.

I knew nothing about Lepidoptera, and now I know a lot more about which butterfly is which, and I learned a lot of this from other students, such as how to pin and who is who.

BB

Honestly, I kind of had lost interest in pinning insects and doing my own research, instead just reading on others research. During this camp, we each did an individual study and found our own results, which reflected our own knowledge and skill. I had forgotten how that had felt. It is a really good feeling to not have to rely on something else, because if you do have such a reliance, then sometimes you can feel that you aren’t doing anything, and you’re just soaking it. That’s ok, but it feels sad to not find anything for yourself, no matter how insignificant that may seem.

I was really surprised how quickly people made friends and got along. I have been to other summer camps, and I have classes, and it is very rare that everyone in a group will get along so well.

EL

After turning my notes into data and analyzing the data, I realized that what I have is actually conclusive, rather than inconclusive as was my impression from my unorganized notes.

Everyone got along and everyone was so great. Everyone made everyone else smile and laugh at multiple points over the week. It’s just so great. It’s definitely something that made the camp so enjoyable.

AG

Personally, I have learned so much here, from the councilors to the students. That’s my main point, yeah, there has been so much new information. And that makes me feel so excited to learn more, there is so much out there to know, and I just want to learn.

There was a great group dynamic. We got along really well. There wasn’t any tension. Everyone made each other laugh and smile, and really, we had a great time overall.

RCK

Towards the end of the school year, I kind of lost my love of learning, and I kinda didn’t want to learn anything more. During this camp, I started recovering it. I had the feeling, oh I want to study that, oh I want to observe it. This feels really good for myself, and for my career really. To know that I still have that in me and that the school system hasn’t beaten it out of me, as sad as that sounds, it’s true.

It’s just really really cool to spend time with people who are as passionate about science as I am or even more passionate, and who are ready to share that. With some of my friends I will talk about it, and they’ll go “oh, science, well then. And here, it’s like, “Yes! Explain it to me, tell me how it works.” Oh man, the food is impressive, especially for a camp.

DK

I really didn’t know that much before I came here, but I learned that there is so much to learn. I grew a lot, I learned a lot. I was surprised how well my project went, even though there were several times I was like “what?!?”.

I feel like I have a stronger personal between everyone. Definitely the best group of people I have been with, definitely different, from different places, different views. Everyone accepted for me for who I am. The biggest thing really is that everyone got along. Hahah—my favorite part is the log in lag Tahoe. I couldn’t swim very well, but we had so much fun, even when we went way out into the water and the colors were changing below us. People don’t usually take my ideas, and they loved my idea of getting on the log. It was like we were super close friends by the end.

Thank you for sharing this experience!

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Thursday, July 27th, 2017

We got up in the morning a few folks at a time. The small breakfast crew made banana pancakes, and, to our delight, were able to cook the frozen eggs! The rest of the day we worked on the group and individual projects. Unlike the previous two days, we didn’t have to lug gear into the forest to work on the group project. Instead, we clustered in the field lab. One of the instructors gave us a lecture on how to identify different groups of arthropods (more specifically, spiders and insects), then we sorted the insects by eye and, when we couldn’t see enough detail, we used microscopes. We were surprised by the plumy hairs of bees, and there were super tiny insects which looked like springtails, but were actually beetles! Some of us just really enjoyed using the microscopes, regardless of what organisms we were looking at. After we tallied our arthropods by taxon, bowl color, and habitat, we presented our data to the instructors who transcribed the data into a spreadsheet for analysis. After lunch, we dissected the results of our project during a group discussion where we also exercised statistical thinking. Subsequently, we spent the rest of the afternoon working on our individual projects, generating more data and conducting our analyses. Dinner was pretty darn funny. We had pizza-burritos, stir-fry, and pretty much literally everything in the fridge. Eggs. Ooh, yeah, we tried instant crème brulée and beef stroganoff. In the later evening we went into the forest for science meditation. When we got back to the station, a woman from Earth Watch discussed with us her research and we talked with the instructors about college. We were good and tired by the end of the day.

Impressions from the individual projects:

“Even though I didn’t get the results I had anticipated or results relevant to my original question, I still learned things from what I did observe. Flexibility is key in all things, including science!”

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I am proud to be able to say that I can identify the flower species in the riparian area, meadow, and forest. I wasn’t able to name a single flower species before I started my individual project.

My individual project might not have produced the most conclusive results, but it was nice to get a sampling of all the butterfly species, and just running through fields catching butterflies is really fun.

I was walking in the forest for my project when I came upon a female grouse. I watched her and listened to her clucking, when about a minute and a half later a juvenile flew up and scared the living bejeezus out of me! I continued to watch the birds, and a little while later about five or six grouslings flew out of the grass from all around me! Walking by yourself in the forest opens up so many experiences.

Impressions from the science meditation:

“During the meditation, I audibly said, ‘Wow,’ when I looked to the horizon and noticed the beautiful clouds in the sky.”

During the meditation at one point he said that we are carbon and that everything is carbon and then I imagined everything breaking down into molecules in my head, and it was so cool.

Why are the days going so fast, I just got here!

ES, EL, RK

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017.

Today the morning was a bit cold. Fortunately, we had enough warm clothes to stick it out through breakfast and warm up physically by getting our gear together for the group project. We went into the field after learning some field techniques and reviewing our methods. The first stop was the meadow, followed by the forest and the fen. We found a number of surprising results already, for example there were tons of spiders in the meadow, and the biodegradable soap we used (Dr. Bronner’s) didn’t actually break the surface tension. One of the craziest things we found was a purple grasshopper nymph, which spawned an inside joke we were laughing about until late at night. Once we returned to the station, we did the first sort of our samples, which felt really good after having set out the traps and collected them on our own. Tomorrow we will identify the insects and arachnids and tally our results by bowl color and habitat.

After lunch, we got to spend the entire afternoon on our individual projects. Some of us worked alone, some of us banded together to increase our manpower. Through these projects, we have learned a lot about science. For example, I have never been excited about ants before. I feel like by doing my project I gained new appreciation. First of all, for the relief of getting data on what you are trying to find, for a while I got negative results, so when I finally got that one ant, even if it wasn’t something I wasn’t interested in, I was so excited. The scientific process isn’t always what it seems. When you think about science, you think about people going out and doing projects and finding data. But like, in real life, when you go out, it ends up being a complete toss-up whether your theory or hypotheses even generate data, let alone conform to your expectations. Sometimes it feels like the general public views science through rose-colored glasses; it’s not like conclusive evidence is always easy to find. Things aren’t as cut and dry as we might expect. Most people, for science things, only see the final project from all the research and data that has been collected. If you look at biology, and you look at the theory of evolution, we don’t talk about how long it took for people to come up with theory that is viable.

Despite some allergies, it has been really good to have individual time to spend hours on end talking to no one. It’s like meditation, we get to think about stuff on our own. We take for granted how refreshing it is not to have as many responsibilities, and to experience the momentary bliss of being, no matter how long it lasts. It’s like everyone needs to just go out in nature and experience that at some point in the day. It hasn’t just been individual experiences we have enjoyed, but social experiences as well. We thoroughly enjoyed game night, so much so in fact that we ourselves had to tone down our volume. Getting to spend good time with each other, we reflected on what holds us back in social situations. There are always like two perspectives on things: (1) dude bro, that bummed me out, the other is (2) I grow from that. A lot of people have the first reaction. Other times it is your choice to learn to how use your experience in a good way. Sometimes we have to pysch ourselves up for social experiences. For example, I thought about an experience I had in band camp, and I had to spend ten minutes to psych myself up to talk to someone, after doing that we became good friends. Everyone has been getting along here, and through our projects, group experiences, and down time, we’ve come together so much that it feels like we’ve been here a long time already.

Tomorrow we will be up early again, and we will finish our group project. In the afternoon, we’ll analyze our data and discuss our results. We’ll use this experience as a springboard to think about our own work. After dinner, we’re going to have a conversation about college, and how to share research. It’s getting late now, so we’re wrapping up!

Good night!

KT, KH, EL

BBC 2.0, 2017. Photos, part 1.

DSCN0305Group photo at Sagehen, Tuesday morning.

 

DSCN0335Setting up our group project in the fen, Tuesday morning.

DSCN0344Studying fish in a freshwater stream at eye level, Tuesday afternoon.

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Blogging on Tuesday night!DSCN0353Collecting our samples from the group project, Wednesday morning.

 

DSCN0356.jpgThe group project is a team effort. Here, one of the teams is taking insects out of the soapy bowl traps and putting them and their data in whirl-pak bags to process in the lab.

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Hiking through the forest to collect our group samples by walking on fallen logs, Wednesday morning.

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Goofing around at the station, timeless.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

This morning we made pancakes, but didn’t have eggs because they froze in the refrigerator. After breakfast, we had an orientation from Jeff the station manager. He told us about the history of the reserve, and discussed some of the projects which have been going on here, from science to art. I liked the music! Afterwards, we worked on the group project. We are testing hypotheses about biodiversity among three habitats, and to do so we placed colored bowls filled with soapy water to catch insects. Our favorite habitat above all is the fen, which is a giant, spongy sphagnum bog with carnivorous plants. To get there, we had to climb over fallen logs in the forest, over and over again. In fact, we set up one of our sample transects in the forest as well! We got back and had lunch before spending two hours of quiet solitary time in nature to observe the life around us. After dinner, we talked about our observations with the councilors to develop individual projects, which we’ll start tomorrow. We almost forgot! Before our observation time, we visited the fish house, which is a barn with a glass wall across from fish so they can be seen at eye level. Our down time was really enjoyable. I Dutch braided my hair and it looks great!

 

Impressions from our observation time, by RK.

The first thing you hear is the silence. Your brain is not open to the sounds yet. As you relax, the gurgling stream forces its way into your thoughts. You look out over the water as it flows over the logs. You are astounded by the amount of water constantly passing by. Suddenly, a wind picks up. You hear it rushing through the trees, moving the grass, and caressing your ear. As you continue to listen, bird calls find their way through the constant noise of the wind and water. A jay calls from the trees across the creek, and the sound is echoed farther away.

As you look out in front of you, you see the grass waving in the wind. Its tips catch the light but the bottoms of the blades are buried in shadow. Shadow blades can be seen on every piece of grass, yet no leaf is left untouched by the light. You look onto the stream and see the ripples left by the underwater currents, and the bubble patches swiftly passing you. Looking behind you, you see dense trees reaching up into the sky, each branch and needle individually reaching for the light.

Now you begin to look closer. Holes and tunnels made by beetles in the logs lying across the stream catch your eye. An ant and its shadow crawl across the top of the log. Smaller ants crawl in the opposite direction. To your left is a lupine with white petals. Purple infuses the pale flowers, stronger at the edges and veins. The sun shines through the petals that are already open. At the top, flowers tightly shut wait for the right time to reveal their beauty Right next to your knee grows a plant, lying the same way as the grass. You reach out to touch it, and its soft trichomes meet your fingers. Along the central vein of the leaves, insects have eaten holes big enough to put your finger through. Through the grass in front of you, yellow inflorescences reach up taller than the grass towards the sun, looking like little suns themselves. A dragonfly floats above the willows that hem the stream, and further off into the distance, jays fly between two trees. Fluffy white clouds make them look like black silhouettes. Now you can hear many birds; woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, bluebirds, and birds you cannot identify. Your ears and brain are open, and you are ready to let nature in.

MK, RK, AG

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Last night, when I went to bed, my head hit the pillow I fell asleep immediately. When I went to bed, I heard so many things, and I listened for a while. I loved the sounds, it was so much better than running down my phone battery listening to music or white noise. When we woke up after sleeping well, we felt like we could breathe. It felt so good to wake up with the day, instead of the alarm clock, to not have to open the blinds to see the sunlight. For breakfast, we ate outside and enjoyed the cool air, looking out over Lake Berryessa. We could see the sun rising over the rolling hills and water.

In the morning, we left for the campus, where we took a tour of the museum and the botanical conservatory.  We walked into the botanical conservatory and were instantly taken aback by the hundreds of plants that greeted us.  I personally came here for the entomological experience, but seeing all the interesting plants and the way they are able to interact with the environment in so many ways, I was absolutely blown away.  For instance, the bull-horn acacia, which has a symbiotic relationship with the big-eyed tree ants.  When the tree is disturbed in any way, the ants will immediately fall onto the source of the disturbance and put a stop to it through stings.  We also got to see several carnivorous plants, which we dissected to see the digested insects on the inside.  Then we saw some of the many ways that plants reproduce with several examples of specialized seeds, such as seeds that explode or stick to animals.

Before that, however, we spent some time visiting the Bohart Museum of Entomology, which held its own set of subjects of interest. Not only were we given the opportunity to view and learn some about almost every insect you could want to see, whether that be a colossal moth, a praying mantis, an iridescent blue wasp or a butterfly with wings displaying identical patterns to that of a dead leaf. I had been wondering for a considerable while before camp about a specific kind of wasp that was somewhat rare around my house, but was unsure of what kind. Simply be describing it, we were able to find an almost identical specimen to that I have myself. This was soon followed by returning to the academic surge to begin packing.

Upon arriving at the station, we situated ourselves in our quarters and ate dinner. A group of us went out to mosquito infested grasses in order to set up a motion activated critter cam. Additionally, we sprinkled talc on the ground in the surrounding area so that any animal prints will be visible in the powder. Personally, I am curious whether the dew will ruin this impact, but that still remains to be seen.

While some of us were setting up the camera traps, others were trying to set up a blacklight, and also trying to unlock one of the cabin doors (oops!). We got to spend some time being part of the habitat, listening to birds, pinpointing where the calls were coming from. Even thought it was all just pine trees, just listening to the river and the birds, we realized that there was so much diversity, both in the moment and as the day turned to dusk. After dusk, we discussed these ideas about biodiversity and turned them into hypotheses which we will test tomorrow when we set up our group project, after making breakfast and having an introductory lecture from the head of the field station.

It’s getting late now, so even though we have so many other things to talk about, we’re to wrap this up. One of us thought it had already been three days, but it is only the second day—we have done so much, and we are so happy that we aren’t even halfway through the camp yet!

Thank you, and good night!

KT, ES, BB + a councilor