Our challenge began last night when Dev regaled our group stories of his past exploits in grad school. He went into detail on adventures he went on in the name of science before revealing to us that our challenge the next morning will be to create a science experiment from observing the area around us.
Upon starting, we got to work walking around in the woods, asking questions and digging into things that piqued our curiosity. This proved much harder than we thought and the group only gathered around 5 questions per person. Rewording some questions to make them testable and more specific, we centered on a odd fungus some of us had noticed while scrounging around the juniper trees. There were lots of them and we wanted to find out where they were dense and why.
After some research, we learned that they were called Cedar Apple Rust and they really like to feed off juniper trees. We devised an experiment to measure the density of the galls (individual units of the Rust) in correlation to incline level of the slope that their hosts grew on. After splitting up three zones and further splitting up three sub-divisions of those zones, we counted the gall population per tree. Our findings led us to the conclusion that on the slope, there were far more galls than on the flatlands.
Our group was stellar together and at the end of the day, we complied a scientific paper of our findings. This challenge was a nice intellectual break from the previous challenges that put a lot of emphasis on physical and mental capabilities. We were able to compile data and perform some simple statistical analysis. We ended with more questions than we started with, but more experience on how to go about answering those questions. This challenge may have ended, but we’re all going to continue looking at our environment with fresh eyes, a renewed sense of wonder, and a functional curiosity to carry us forward.
Read the scientific paper here: http://www.unschooladventures.com/?p=2923