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!
KT, KH, EL