Monday, July 5, 2010

MacGyver shows up

In the afternoon session, the kids from Group A studied the ecophysiology of the plateau forest here on the domain with Dr. Deborah McGrath. After a brief introduction to the equipment we'd be using, one for testing the tension that evaporating water creates in plants and another for controlling and measuring the environment around a leaf in order to observe how quickly that particular plant was carrying out photosynthesis, we headed out into the field to observe the different ways domain plants use to survive in a plateau environment that isn't too friendly to plants.

We arrived in the forest and discovered that the plants down beneath the canopy survive because, unlike a fig plant we tested in a garden outside the science building, they conserve the few resources they have and don't allow extra resources to kick them into photosynthetic overdrive. While at the forest research site (after using the van we came in, an adapter, and a very long extension cord to power our equipment in a very MacGyver-esque fashion) we went up into the forest canopy on wooden platforms attached to the tops of trees. Despite fears of heights, the vast majority of students climbed up the ladders into the canopy (using safety equipment and harnesses of course). After a short talk with Dr. McGrath about the connection between the molecular biology within each plant to the ecosystem as a whole, we packed up the vans and headed back to the main campus for showers, dinner, and free time before the weekend and the 4th of July celebration.

Memorable Quote of the Day: "I would support a violent uprising if it led to a peaceful transfer of power"

Jack Albright

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