Sunday, May 17, 2015

From one Project to the next!

The start of a new and exciting chapter for the Bio 450 class

We started off the week with our second to last lecture in community ecology, and then spent the reminder of the day planning our group projects and analyzing data; as was the theme for the next two days as well. After we were done doing data analysis, it was time to create graphs and begin thinking about our presentations on Wednesday. PowerPoints were made and speeches were planned out and split up among team members. The library became many groups’ new home for the following few evenings. Before we knew it, the day of presentations had arrived! With coffee and donuts awaiting us, we filed into the presentation room in the library. 
Issie pointing out parts of the PowerPoint 

Each group had taken a portion of the data we had collected in the field the previous week and presented their findings to the rest of the class. David, Ari, Levi, Max, and Cat looked at the difference in species diversity between exposed and protected areas of the low intertidal zone. Melanie, Heidi, Natalie, and Amanda explored whelk diet patterns. Rachel, Isaac, Kaitlin, Issie, and Chaleen looked at the differences in species diversity in the mid and high intertidal zones. Lastly, Kat, Julia, Kylee, Landon, and Ashley looked at Sea Star Wasting Disease and density data from last year and saw how it compared to this year’s data. Some groups found trends in their data while others found various degrees of insignificance. Halfway through, we were forced to switch rooms due to an unforeseen conflict, but everything went smoothly otherwise.

Rachel presenting the conclusion for her group
Finishing the project report with a view of lovely rainy skies

Once presentations were given, it was time to study (and work on those last minute details for our essays). A foreboding sense of the upcoming exam and report, both of which were happening on Thursday, set most students’ sense of panic into overdrive. Many trips were made to the back of the library to have Alissa edit our reports. After reports were finished, studying for the open-note exam the next morning would hold all of our attention for the next several hours. 

Holing up in library rooms, using screen projections, and verbally talking each other through the various theories and models really helped us to nail down those tricky graphs!

Thursday was the big exam day! We were greeted by various kinds of tootsie candies on our desk, and most students enjoyed the treat to get a little sugar flowing through their veins. After the exam was over, we were free for the evening! Some of us worked on preparing for our research project meetings on Friday, while others chose other ways to enjoy their afternoon off. Going out to dinner or spending an afternoon on the beach were some common choices.

Project experiments already being set up in the lab 
Finally! We started our term research projects, something that has been foreboding and yet exciting all at the same time. With information in hand, we prepared ourselves to discuss our big research projects. We met in the morning to go over the schedule for the day. Groups and individuals met with the “board” (instructors and TA’s from previous and future sections) at their assigned time to give their research project proposal, or pitch as we called it. The proposal consisted of our research projects purpose, methods, and significance. Afterwards the board discussed any issues they saw with our ideas and then sent us on our merry way to frantically try and finish the written portion of the proposal before the 5 o’clock deadline. When finished, a sense of relief washed over the BI 450 class at Hatfield as they pressed that “send” button in their email pop-up box.

There are so many cool ideas and projects the class has come up with. Anything from algae to sea stars to scraping gooseneck barnacles off rocks. We aren’t sure how they will all turn out, but we’re all excited to finally be getting started!

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