Crossing the Moat: The REACH II Allegan County Bog Survey Project
Professor Suzanne DeVries-Zimmerman, Hope College
Dr. Edward Hansen, Hope College
The Research Experience Across Cultures at Hope (REACH) is a six-week summer program in which high school students and teachers work alongside undergraduate students and mentoring professors to conduct scientific research. The program’s goal is to provide scientific research opportunities for area high school students and teachers, including members of underrepresented populations. This year, two pilot REACH II projects, a team-based research approach, were added to the program. One of these teams, consisting of four high school students, one high school teacher, and an undergraduate student, conducted a survey of bogs in Allegan County, Michigan. The goal of this project was to develop the stratigraphy and geologic history for four area bogs. The research group collected cores from each bog, then made and described smear slides at selected intervals along each core. The smear slide data were analyzed by the team to develop geologic histories and stratigraphic cross-sections for each of the sampled bogs. Lastly, each team member prepared a poster summarizing the results for one of the studied bogs and presented it at the final research celebration. The students stated that exposure to a real world research setting and interacting with other students and faculty members were among the most valuable aspects of the REACH program. They learned how to work as a team while overcoming the challenges and problems of fieldwork and a close camaraderie developed within the group as a result of this fieldwork. Additionally, students said that they gained many new skills, including working with scientific instruments, developing a work ethic, and learning how to ask scientific questions and to read scientific papers. The hands-on experience of this research provided the participants with a valuable understanding of the scientific process from beginning to the end.
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