Friday, November 16, 2007

Programs in Schools

Last night, we took the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest show on the road to Clay Hill Middle School's Math/Science Night. Dodging branches shaken loose by the afternoon's high winds, we collected macroinvertebrate samples from the swamp. We had two trays containing the rinsed samples along with two microscopes and various tools to allow parents and students the opportunity to "bug pick."

A qualitative value can be determine for water quality by examining the macroinvertebrate community present in a sample. Some organisms are quite tolerant of pollution, while others are somewhat tolerant or quite intolerant of pollution. Therefore, based on the percentages of these groups (taxa), one can determine if the water is poor, fair, or outstanding. Based on the small sample of organisms students teased from the many Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) needles (they're a deciduous conifer), the water in Four Holes Swamp remains high quality. However, it was noted that despite the high water quality, the fish remain low quality due to the buildup of mercury in their bodies. (See blog entry1 and entry2)

This morning, the Francis Beidler Forest show went to Gregg Middle School for their career day. Upon entering the library, we immediately felt inadequate. We decided to leave in the car our shiny Leatherman tool, which includes several knive blades, saws, and sharp/pointy screwdrivers, because we did not want to get hassled by "the man" for bringing weapons into a school. Career day includes, state troopers, county deputies, town policemen, DNR law enforcement officers, and EMS personnel. There were more guns, knives, and sharp scissors than at most weapons trade shows. We had an empty Leatherman holder on our belt.

Beyond our weapon inadequacies, we feel the morning went well. We may not be invited back next year after answering one of the prepared questions each student was required to have answered. The question: "What did you learn from Middle School that helped you in your chosen career?" The answer: "We can't remember middle was over 30 years ago." We have trouble remembering what we did last week (that's did, not learned).

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