Monday, November 7, 2011

A S'more Celebration

With the fall sampling behind us, the students got to work on putting the data together to compare  of the coastal areas in the study. Using information that Alaska and Georgia sent us, we organized a spreadsheet of our measurements and observations.
Organizing the data

We also had a really early SKYPE call with Georgia that only a few of us were able to get to. (Not because we couldn't get up, but because we had a lot of sickness the last few weeks!) Students led the call with questions concerning the results. ( See a video clip of the call on the Videos & More Page below!)

It was really neat talking to them. We had talked with Alaska a couple of weeks before that.
We found a lot of ways to improve some of the mistakes we made this first time. In January we'll do it again!

Right now SMORE Texas is working on making some podcasts. Maybe in the next week or so we can post our first one!

We celebrated the end of the first fieldwork with a S'more party!!! In fact, we also sent Alaska and Georgia all the supplies they needed to  make them too. We're wondering if they have made them?
Is it hot enough yet?

Principal Mrs. LeBlanc shows us the art of s'more making :)

We all had a good time eating!
Silly s'more smiles

Monday, October 17, 2011

Drought in Texas is Impacting the Watershed

    The drought that's plagued Texas since January of 2011 is evident in these images taken during the freshwater sampling several weeks ago. Grade 7 students were sampling in areas northwest of the Trinity River and Bay area. Their ClassEco Project compliments the SMORE Project because it gives us information about what's happening in the freshwater systems farther up the watershed.

In areas that are traditionally full of water, students found the profound effects the drought has had on these aquatic systems.  They're sharing their data with the G8 SMORE students to figure out what impact this has on the coastal areas in their study.

Meanwhile, SMORE students in Texas, Alaska and Georgia are holding teleconferences to discuss data from each of their samplings. Our next blog will talk about their ideas!

Ironically, shortly after the G7 sampling, we had our first significant rainfall! Measured 3-5 inches in different parts of the sampling areas. Wish we could have gone right back to see what was washing down! Within a day however, you couldn't tell it had even rained- hasn't since either!

    Cypress Creek behind our school- water level is only ankle deep midway!

     Lake Houston boat ramp and fishing pier- where's the water????

      We're standing where water should be over our heads!!

       Work goes on though....

The San Jacinto River didn't offer us much more !
                                                               Soil testing for nutrients.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

SMORE Coastal Sampling is a Success!

The Texas team packed bags, ice chests, and equipment and headed out to the Trinity River Bay this Friday, Sept. 23rd. It was the first day of Fall and the weather couldn't have been better! Clear skies, breezy, and a very comfortable temperature ONLY in the 80"s- that was a treat after the triple digit temps we've been having!
Team at first site

Collecting samples for UGA

 Students had been practicing their testing skills, as well as learning how to operate the loggers and sensors the weeks before the fieldwork. As the day approached for going out into the field, there was a mixture of sentiments and emotions. Everyone voiced excitement about going out to the bay, but some also talked about being nervous about doing their testing "right" :) Mrs. Lollie assured them that even Dr.Yager and her ANACONDAS  team had some of the same feelings as they headed out to the Amazon Plume!

Once we got to the first site, the training kicked in! However, as we were setting up the work stations, a million (at least) lovebugs invaded the area and were quite a distraction- until Mrs. Lollie reminded us what we were there for!!

Reading the soil test  

 We traveled to 2 other sites. The second was at Smith Point, about halfway down the bay. It looked more like the ocean there with waves and wind blowing a little harder. By this time we knew what do do better and it was "less scary" .

Tailgate lab at site 2
Measuring flow rate   
How clear is the water?  
Logging in the salinity data.
The third site was on Bolivar Peninsula, right on the beach. We had to park and work on the street side of the sand dunes, but were able to get right up on the water! Wish we could have gone in for a dip!!!!

Great day for the beach!

Using the colormetric scale
After a long day, we headed home! Now we're looking at the data we collected and will try to figure out how it all fits together. We don't understand it all yet, but that's why we're doing this. We wonder what the other SMORE students are thinking about their fieldwork. We are planning some SKYPE  conferences with them soon! Check in next week to see what our test results were.

Our first sampling trip is a success!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Big Texas Howdy!

This is SMORE TX signing in for the first time! We’re very excited to be a part of this interesting project!  Since we live on the Gulf coast of Texas, we know how important the marine environment is to us. Although, we’re an hour north of the coastline, it’s still close enough for us to get there easily.

Seven major rivers empty into the Gulf of Mexico from Texas alone. Their watersheds cover hundreds of miles of across the state and have a direct impact on the estuaries and the ocean. Last year as 7th graders we did fieldwork on the freshwater systems that run behind our school down to Galveston Bay.

We have lots of questions about what we’ll find in the waterways this year when we pick up the trail farther south and into the Gulf waters. Our plan is to study the Lower Trinity River where it meets the bay and Gulf. However, the extreme drought conditions in Texas have dropped water levels in the rivers to record lows. Who knows what we’ll find!!

Our 8th grade class is small this year, but BIG in ideas J - and we’re really excited about working on the SMORE project with new friends in Alaska and Georgia and with researchers Dr. Tish Yager and Dr. Marc Frischer.

We’ll talk more about our sampling sites in the next blog. For now, hope you’re enjoying cooler weather than we are!!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Welcome to SMORE!

Welcome to SMORE!

A research-based project  that partners middle and high school classrooms with researchers Dr. Patricia (Tish) Yager (University of Georgia at Athens) and Dr. Marc Frischer (Skidaway Institute of Oceanography) to monitor and compare human impact on biogeochemical interactions in coastal waters. Eutrophication, the pollution of water caused by excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, impacts watersheds and in turn upsets the balance of marine microbial communities when freshwater meets the ocean.

Project Manager Lollie Garay and her students at Redd Middle School (Houston TX) will team up with  Joy McCook's high school students at the Bradwell Institute (Hinesville GA), and Deb Greene’s students at Eben Hopson Middle School (Barrow, Alaska) to conduct the sampling and reporting.  So, what do students in coastal Texas, Georgia, and Alaska all have in common? They’re all part of the same ocean!

Working in their own unique coastal environments, students from three distinct cultures will be actively engaged in sample and data collection to monitor nutrient loads in freshwater sources and in coastal estuaries. They will share their data and results with each other and with mentor scientists to develop an understanding of locale specific impacts on the global ocean.

By learning about their local watersheds and coastal oceans, conceptual understanding of the intricate relationship between us and the global ocean is strengthened, as well as the understanding of how all Earth systems interact. Moreover, it immerses students in ocean science topics that are traditionally underrepresented in classroom curricula, such as the oceanic carbon, nitrogen and biological cycles. Through SMORE, students will experience the process of authentic research and gain new knowledge about people and science in unique parts of the country.

The idea for SMORE was born out of Lollie’s efforts to integrate Dr. Yager’s research on critical biogeochemical cycles into classroom curricula and educational outreach.  Lollie and Dr. Yager teamed up after they met on an international PolarTREC Antarctic expedition in 2007 ( Later she joined her in the mid-Atlantic as a member of the ANACONDAS team (  This year she worked with the Arctic Nitro team in Barrow where she also met Dr. Frischer. You’ll learn more about their research and the participating classrooms as the project unfolds!

Throughout the SMORE project, students, teachers and mentor scientists will post blogs and podcasts to share their experiences. This project is funded through a 2011 Toyota Tapestry Award in Environmental Science.

SMORE creates a platform for transforming abstract climate change debate into a learning experience that looks at human impact on global change from a different view- the ocean! 

Join us on the adventure :)