by Michael Kuczynski, October 2012
This fall, Mrs. High’s highschool students at Delton Kellogg had the opportunity to get outside and do a little research on the bioenergy plots. Different classes focused on collecting different sets of data, all building towards an answer to the question “Can we grow grass or flowers for our fuel and save the butterflies too?” In the morning students were clipping samples of biomass from the plots to investigate how we can maximize biofuel production while using the least amount of land. Everything went very smoothly and the most challenging part for the students seemed to be keeping warm while working.
In the afternoon we set up pitfall traps and sticky traps to catch invertebrates in the plots. We quickly realized that the rocks in the soil was making it a bit difficult to dig the holes for the pitfall traps and Mrs. High had to bring out some more heavy-duty shovels to get the job done. Despite this hiccup the students had a fun time and seemed to really appreciate the opportunity to get outside.
A week later we collected our traps to see what invertebrates we had captured. It was a little bit challenging at first trying to identify some of the insects that had been squashed on the sticky trap and there was certainly some squeamishness towards the bugs that had been sitting in soapy water in the pitfall traps for an entire week, but with a little patience we managed to muddle through and we had a lot of fun. After all, science isn’t always nice and neat chemicals sitting on a lab bench…sometimes you have to get a little dirty!