Friday, June 26, 2015

An Unconventional Classroom

A classroom is usually defined as a building with some a teacher at the front and patient students sitting at their desks waiting to absorb the knowledge that is going to be thrown at them... Well the problem is that I'm a hands on learner and prefer to physically work on a problem not just get a lecture about it. Thankfully the LAKES-REU program allows me to get my hands dirty in the morning and then really clean in the afternoon. What I mean by this is that we get to travel into the field to collect samples, gather data, and fight off mosquitoes in the morning and then return to the lab to put gloves and lab coats on so that we can make science.

Finding Chest Deep Water.
Well I guess Science isn't really descriptive. Well either way my group or the geology sector of the LAKES-REU program is studying how much of the Phosphorous actually enters the water via groundwater or any other source. We have been working on this problem by collecting water samples from 18 Mile Creek and Tiffany Creek via a automatic water sampler that we have set on a timer (its a lot better then driving there everyday). However, when we do end up at the sites we have started entering the water to calculate how much water is actually passing through that area, otherwise known as discharge. Finally, we analyze the data and water samples in the lab to get even more data. Now more data could be any amount but on Thursday it meant setting a new record for consecutively running and testing water samples at UW-Stout (at least according to Dr. Matt Kuchta), which I gladly and sadly hold with my fellow geology interns (Andy and Jonah).

Our Classroom: Otherwise known as Tiffany Creek
So as of now you basically can decided that a very well trained monkey could beat our record on testing the water samples, and my only response to that is where is that monkey because yesterday was really long. In all seriousness though I'm here to learn, and I truly want to learn about the issues that can destroy a beautiful resource like Lake Menomin because back home in Maryland we have the same troubles occurring in and around my beloved Chesapeake Bay. I plan on getting my answers and knowledge that I can take back home by sticking it out through the long 8 weeks, reading the literature that my mentors assign and that I find myself, and most of all I will just be observant. If I stick to this route then I will be able to learn so much and be able to look in depth at our data, which is going to be very interesting.

The only other really big thing that I want to learn and fairly soon at that is.... Who has the best cheese???

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