Science Field Research

Sturgis West Science/Ecosystem Project

By Gina Kelly, Lead Science Teacher – Sturgis West
Transect Study Physics

Physics Transect Study

Beginning in October, Sturgis West science students began working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Long Pasture Sanctuary to conduct a multi-grade investigation of the ecosystems of Cape Cod.  .  The collaboration centers around a multi-grade investigation of the ecosystems of Cape Cod- similar to the B-Wet estuary project performed at East.  The sanctuary is currently conducting several investigations in a variety of Cape Cod habitats. Our students will have the opportunity to participate in these “real-life” investigations which promote both stewardship and scientific literacy.
The project involves all of our students organized by grade level and by ecosystem.  In the Spring, Juniors will be investigating vernal pool ecosystems.  The sanctuary is currently conducting a vernal pool comparison study at both their Long Pasture and Falmouth sites. As part of their study, the sanctuary constructed several man-made vernal pools and we are very interested in learning how to do the same at our new West campus.  In addition, the data that our juniors will generate during their investigations will be incorporated into the sanctuary’s data set. This Fall, Sophomores will be investigating salt marsh ecosystems and their data will be incorporated into the sanctuary’s transect study of Great Marsh/Sandy Neck in Barnstable which has been designated as an Area of Critical Concern.    The transect study is modeled after the protocol used by the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod. Freshmen will be investigating tidal flat ecosystems in the Spring and their data will be connected to the sanctuary’s horseshoe crab project which is a very timely management issue involving scientists, local fishermen, the medical industry, and environmental groups.
For each student group, naturalists from the sanctuary come to Sturgis West for a pre-visit presentation during which students receive background information pertaining to the particular ecosystem to be studied and the specific protocols to be followed during the field investigations.  Following the pre-visit, each student group spends an entire day in the field conducting their investigations under the guidance of the sanctuary’s naturalists.  Naturalists will then return to Sturgis West for data analysis post-visits. The entire Sturgis West science department is participating in the project by extending and connecting the project to their specific course curricula, and by gaining valuable training in the implementation of a variety of protocols as they work beside their students in the field.

The Fall of Science at Sturgis East…….

(meaning to say what’s going on in science this autumn at Sturgis!)

By Pete Sampou, Chemistry and IB Environmental Systems – Sturgis East

Well, all of our 10th grade students enjoyed a fabulous October day in the field at the Sandwich Boardwalk/Town Neck Beach. This educational experience is funded by a NOAA grant as part of their 4-year involvement in estuarine/watershed science here at Sturgis. The students gathered data on chemical parameters (salinity, temperature and pH) and some physics related information (current speed and related size of particles in the bottom sediments). Said data was brought back into the classroom so that the collected observations could be compared/verified with the hope of documenting trends typical of a estuarine ecosystem.  Each student benefits from the exercise of gathering data like a real scientist, such an experience enables students to better appreciate the role of science in our society. Bringing the Cape’s environment into all the science classes here at Sturgis is just one aspect that sets Sturgis apart from the other Cape schools.

Dr. Pete’s Environmental Systems and Society seniors took a self-guided tour of Barnstable’s Transfer Station in Marston Mills. Many of these students probably have never thought much about the Cape’s solid waste disposal options, instead being happy with the “Out of sight, out of mind” mentality so many in their world share. However, their examination of the transfer station’s workings brought a new understanding to a real Capewide concern; How does (and should) the Cape dispose of the waste we all produce? Equipped with the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and a more in depth understanding of environmental problems communities face (from their IB course) many students had actual revelations directly relating to their throwing stuff away: “we need to make our stuff last longer”, “we should pass on our unneeded clothes, books, golf clubs, and other good used items to the swap shop so we don’t have to throw it away in a landfill” “the Cape transports all its waste off Cape to Middleboro to be disposed of in another community. This protects the Cape’s groundwater”. Simple things, perhaps, but how many of you know the full trajectory of specific items you  throw away, and what options do we all have with waste in a more sustainable future world?

Group 4 Project

Maritime Museum 015Group 4 004In Senior year, all students participate in the “Group 4 Project” (so named because sciences are the fourth group in the IB hexagon). Group 4 projects are an interdisciplinary and collaborative activity in which all IB Diploma Programme science students must participate.  The goal of the Group 4 Project is to help students come to appreciate the environmental, social, and ethical implications of science.  It should also help students understand the limitations of scientific study (e.g. lack of appropriate data and/or resources). At Sturgis, groups of four students representing each of the science disciplines (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental, and Physics) work together to explore an aspect of the estuarine system. Each student is considered the expert in his/her field of study. They utilize the knowledge they have gathered over the previous 3 years of estuarine studies and field work to devise a single experiment that they work on collaboratively.

Group 4 Project field research occurred in early October and presentations were made to the entire senior class and science faculty on October 12 from 8:00 – 12:00. Twenty-five groups gave presentations. Two samples are provided:

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