E.S.S.R.E. 2006


The 2006 Environmental Science Summer Research Experience for Young Women was held at the Roland Park Country School and ran from July 10th to July 28th. The eleven interns, who came from grades 9 and 10 at Roland Park and Notre Dame Prep, divided into three groups and worked on sites 1, 3, and 4 of the four research sites behind the school. These sites represent different microclimates within the surrounding temperate forest.

The interns arrived on Monday morning, when they ventured into the woods for the first time, measuring tapes and compasses in hand, to stake out their research plots and divide them into quadrats.

Site 1


Despite large quantities of deep mud and even quicksand in Site 4 due to the unusually rainy summer, the long trek to Site 1, and the usual difficulties associated with the practically mountainous Site 3, the young scientists prevailed. The girls proceeded very efficiently to complete biota surveys of their assigned sites. They took soil samples, inserted algae slides, completed arthropod counts, and identified vascular plants in their respective sites. The interns then analyzed the soil's texture, counted algae, protozoa, bacteria, and fungi, and performed chemical tests in order to detect various substances in the soil.



The interns also spent several hours in a classroom setting, learning the math and statistics they would need for analyzing their data. When the initial biota surveys were completed and the raw data collected, the girls went to work with calculators and computers, performing various statistical analyses and entering the results into spreadsheets. After hours of t-testing and despite a few technological mishaps, the girls triumphantly summarized their findings in a large chart on the chalkboard. With the help of Mr. Brock, the project director, they designed experiments of their own to explore anomalies in the data.



Research Questions


  • How do pH and Phosphorous levels affect algae in the soil? by Colleen Gardina, Whitney McClees, and Lauren Sless 

(web lesson 1 & research paper 1)





  • How does plant intake of Aluminum affect Aluminum levels in the soil? by Lily MacKenty, Dani Makia, and Lindsay Wilson

(web lesson 2 & research paper 2)




  • How do Magnesium levels as a result of decaying plant life affect yeast levels in the soil? by Virginia Benz, Rena Collector, Kathryn Reagan, and Emily Windam

(web lesson 3 & research paper 3)




Click on the picture to see a slideshow of snapshots [11 Mb] from these three amazing weeks!





Sophia Uddin


David Brock




Rebecca McWilliams

Teacher's Assistant  

Teacher's Assistant



If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact the Founding Project Director by e-mail at STEMteacherEmeritus.rpcs@gmail.com  or directly at 410/323-5500 ext 5500 . Contact current project director, Cheryl Carmona, at carmonac@rpcs.org

Annotated Bibliography of Soil Ecology Websites

Biota Survey Protocols

E.S.S.R.E. Home Page

E.S.S.R.E. Research Findings & Results

Microclimate Data Bases

Soil Ecology Experiments for the Classroom