Campers return from Glacier Bay, Baranof Island

Science students to present findings today at UAS

Posted: Thursday, July 02, 2009

A new summer camp from the University of Alaska Southeast, Discover Design Research, took 15 high school students out of the classroom and into the wild.

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Courtesy Of Riley Woodford / Adf&G
Courtesy Of Riley Woodford / Adf&G

The camp, which took place from June 20 through today, spent five days at UAS and the other seven at Glacier Bay and Little Port Walter on Baranof Island.

The students got a "visceral" learning experience, according to UAS Environmental Science teacher, Cathy Connor, who was on the Glacier Bay leg of the trip.

They took 10 students and taught them about glacial landscapes, plant succession and salinity while scrambling over glaciers and through Glacier Bay National Park.

The other five students went to Little Port Walter, where they practiced marking and recapturing fish in two nearby streams.

Rhyan Holmes, a rising junior from Juneau, described it: "You would grab a fish and put it in ... a bucket that's full of normal water and then you would put two or three fish into another bucket that has drugs in (it), (the drugs) kind of slow down their breathing so they stop moving so you can handle them easily, and we'll grab them, we'll measure them ... and then we would weigh them and we would have someone clip off the top tail."

After the fish recuperated, the students would return them to the stream and set more traps. When they returned to see how many marked fish were recaptured, it would indicate fish population in the stream.

"I think the important, take-home message is, 'What is science and how does it work?' So we were showing them. They were learning by being scientists," Connor said.

The students had to collect their own data and draw conclusions, which will be presented today at a symposium at the Egan Lecture Hall from 3 to 5 p.m.

"This is a place where scientists come from all over the world to see what these students saw," said Clay Good, a UAS adjunct teacher also involved with the trip.

The group was made up of four boys and 11 girls going into grades 10 through 12. Twelve of them were from Juneau and the other three from Wasilla, Nenana and Illinois.

Besides Connors and Good, the camp had help from Beth Matthews and Tara Fritzinger from UAS, Ron Heintz, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist, Riley Woodford of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Steve Schaller of Glacier Bay National Park.

This is the camp's first year, but organizers plan to continue it. The camp cost $1,500 and was underwritten with grants through the Juneau Economic Development Council.

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