Field work resources
Before observations are published to the Vital Signs website and made public, data must undergo a Quality Assurance Check and an optional Peer Review. The Quality Check is a first step in the online review process to ensure that the data entry form is complete, and jives with the Vital Signs site policy. Peer Review is a process the scientific community uses to critique and validate scientists’ work before it is published.
This document gives a quick overview of why scientists pay attention to water quality, and the importance and expected ranges of each of the chemical measurements: temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and salinity.
The Treehugger Game
Abstract: Oftentimes the best way to conduct a field study with students, especially younger ones, is to begin with a game. Games can release the stress and energy built up throughout the day and create a more focused and calm learning environment. Additionally, in the colder months games can prolong students exposure to cold weather by increasing their body temperature during play. The Treehugger game allows students to hone their observational skills in a fun environment and release stress, preparing them to use these skills in proceeding field studies.
Suggestions and observations from someone who learns the hard way. What I should have done with my first VS investigation.
Vital Signs data is used by students, the public, and professional scientists to better understand invasive and native species in Maine. For that reason, observations need to be of a certain quality to ensure their usefulness. Before students do their own data collection, they take time to explore and decide what good quality data looks like.
Doctors and nurses routinely check “vital signs” (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, breathing, etc.) to get a sense of a person’s health. Similarly, scientists use tools to check an ecosystem’s “vital signs” and assess health. Students practice the Vital Signs Fieldwork Skills that will ultimately help them collect high quality data to determine the health of their own local ecosystem.
Spend time using your senses to make and record observations of the natural world. From those observations, begin to think about the questions you have about the world around you.
Here is an assessment that I used for my classes after they finished their Vital Signs Investigations. They evaluate how well their team cooperated and shared the responsibilities for this project. I also ask them to evaluate the program and to give suggestions to make this better for them.
A half-sheet handout specifying group roles to help remind students of what must be done when they leave the classroom.
The cards developed here are to be used to label the tool bags and to help the teams remember to bring in all their equipment. The team name card is used to identify the team members and the name the team will use for their user name. The students write this information on the cards. The old first round MLTI computer bags work great for this.