E.S.S.R.E. 2002

    

       The 2002 Environmental Science Summer Research Experience for Young Women ran from July 8 to July 26.  Eleven 9th and 10th grade girls from three of the area's schools participated in the program's second year, with young women from Bryn Mawr, Friends, and Roland Park joining together to form a unique, integrated, and balanced group of young scientists.  We were fortunate this year to be able to leave behind our humble beginnings in a garage and move into RPCS' brand new science wing (which was under construction during last year's program), and the new technology and improved facilities made all our work easier.  There is nothing like collecting data in mid-July in Baltimore to make one appreciate the luxury of air conditioning!


         


        This year's program included the usual general biota survey of the four microclimate study sites, and for the first week and a half, all 11 interns worked vigorously in teams of 3 or 4 to collect fresh data on Sites 1, 3, & 4 for eventual use in the focused research portion of the three weeks.  In addition to looking at soil texture, heterotrophic bacteria populations, soil pH & salt levels, and arthropod & annelid numbers, we were able to expand our analysis this year to include inorganic nutrients, yeast & mold densities, algae counts, and arthropod & plant diversity.  These data (available on-line) then allowed participants to use statistical analysis to find any significant patterns, and we were actually able to map the relevant variables this year; something that made designing the individual research projects much easier and more effective. 


 


        Another new feature for the 2002 program was the availability, of course, of last year's data and research.  Consequently, this year's research teams were able to choose new variables to focus their efforts on, and between being able to rule out what was learned last year and the new "map" of results from the survey, this year's three teams were able to develop the following investigations:                                                                               

  • exploring whether differing levels of UV radiation have a correlating impact on the density of mold in the soil (web lesson 1 & research paper 1)

            

  • determining the impact additional water has on the nitrate nitrogen fixation rate of bacteria in soil currently experiencing draught conditions (web lesson 2research paper 2)

                                          

  • finding out what, if any impact, the percentage of silt in the soil has on the density of mold in wet vs. dry soils (web lesson 3research paper 3)

        



        Not all of our time was spent in the woods, however.  Everyone spent a lot of time in the classroom, too.  We learned how to create web pages and write formal lab reports & annotated bibliographies and perform various statistical tests, and the new LCD projector came in quite handy at this point--allowing us to demonstrate web page design, to display data tables side by side to look for significant patterns, and to design spread sheets for everyone to use. Cleaning took place in real sinks with actual running water instead of last year's bucket and hose located outside the garage, and we got to use chalkboards instead of giant-sized Post-It notes stuck to the walls of a living room! Overall, everything ran much more smoothly, and with our fearless TA's to guide us (don't they look excited), we were all soil ecology experts in no time (including our "official" mascot, Plu the Penguin--who spent even more time in the laboratory than we did!).

Click on Plu to see the E.S.S.R.E. 2002 Slideshow (9.4 MB)

 

        To learn more about our adventures this summer, click on any of the pictures in the last row to see short movies (120-330 KB), and if you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact the project director, David Brock, by e-mail at brockda@rpcs.org or directly at 410/323-5500 ext 2204.  For further information, follow the links below to the topic(s) of your choice.