October 2012, by Jake Nalley
The eighth graders in Mr. Stolberg’s Earth Science class at OlivetMiddle School wereabletospend some well-deserved time outside as they were introducedto the BEST plots. To gain a better understanding of how the surrounding lands can influence the plots the students ran the small-scale landscape protocol. Students wereseparated into two groups, Team Landscape and Team Elevation. Team Landscape identified how the land was being used for the fifty meters surrounding each side of the plots. Team Elevation got to learn how touse a water level, and also determine the slope of theland surrounding the plots. Through the hard work of all the 8th graders, we were able to determine that the land surrounding the plot is primarily unmanaged, naturally occurring field, except for the parkinglot that is twenty meters to the south of the plots. Also, both plots are situated on relatively level land. As the students pointed out, the benefit of level land is it will help minimize the influence from the surrounding land, such as the parking lot, on the plots.
We are planning on growing some algae cultures, including a bioluminescent species, to address some basic biological questions. How will a decrease in light exposure influence the intensity of luminescence? How can a changing growing temperature change the growth and luminescence? We have a lot of great work ahead of us, and I think the students are just as excited as I am!