The Arroyo Earth Team explored different ways to conduct research during the month of December, beginning with internet-based research and ending with collecting environmental data at Heron Bay.
Earlier this month, the Arroyo Earth Team interns were tasked to research an environmental problem. Working in groups, they took to the computers to find an issue meaningful to them. They then researched the problem, finding information about what causes the problem, the issues stemming from the problem and the importance of addressing the problem. They were then challenged to search for solutions, both on the internet and solutions they could think of on their own. The three groups presented their research to their fellow interns, sharing their beautiful and informative posters on biodiversity loss, air pollution and deforestation.
The following week, the interns practiced a different kind of research, trading in their computers for clipboards. We headed to the Bay Trail Heron Bay Access Point in San Leandro to collect environmental quality data. The interns broke into three teams: Metadata Team, Water Team and Soil Team.
The Metadata Team collected the fundamental data needed in any field research project: information about where and when the data was collected. The team first observed the sky, documenting information about the clouds and the weather. They then mapped the site, making sure to record information that would enable us to return to the exact same spot in future visits. The Metadata Team also took note of certain things that could help explain the results of the water and soil tests such as proximity to urban or industrial land and the different activities that other visitors at the site were engaging in.
The Water Team began by choosing a location to collect their water sample. To collect the water, they threw a bucket attached to a rope into a stream and filled the bucket about 1/3 full. They then performed various tests on the water sample including pH, turbidity, alkalinity, nitrates and dissolved oxygen. The interns carefully noted the results of their tests to find specific values useful in understanding the health of the aquatic habitat at Heron Bay.
The Soil Team took on the challenge of testing the health of the pedosphere. They selected a testing spot in a similar location to where the water had been collected. They then filled a cup with about 10 centimeters of soil. The Soil Team tested their sample’s pH and fertility by collecting data on the soil’s nitrate, phosphorus and potassium levels.
Not only did the Arroyo Earth Team learn how to collect data and perform environmental testing in the field, they gained experience working as a team to test the health of an entire habitat. They worked in association with the GLOBE protocols, learning how to follow procedures to collect data in a prescribed way to enable the collection of data in a consistent way. When the interns return from winter break, they will explore their results, share their findings with the GLOBE community and contribute to a growing global data set. They will continue to use the research skills learned in December during the next semester and as they develop their careers beyond Earth Team.