Students enrolled in the Biology AP and AP Environmental Science (APES) classes are taking a field trip this week during the block days on Wednesday, October 10 and Thursday, Oct 11. Different classes are traveling to different sites around the area; today, the second period classes went to Stevens Creek, fourth period classes went to Shoreline Park and sixth period classes went to Arastradero Preserve.
The students are conducting experiments on the algae they collect at multiple sites, but the students of each course will be examining the specimens for different purposes. The Biology AP students are testing to see which algae has the most potential to be made into biofuels based on its fatty acids.
“I think it’ll not only give us experience for future experiments but also help us realize that there are bigger objectives to learning biology,” Biology AP student junior Lillian Zhou said.
APES students are using the algae to calculate the primary production of the species, meaning the energy that the primary producers in the ecosystem (plants) provide. Additionally, they are collecting data about biological indicators, such as temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen levels.
“We get the true feel of what an actual environmental scientist does,” APES student senior Matt Ishii said. “Going out into the field and experimenting with our environment [is different] compared to staying in a class and being handed the material and information … It is a new experience to actually go outdoors for a study and get an idea of what an environmental scientist does.”
The algae collection process was successful for students who took the field trip today, as they were able to collect ample samples. They will be testing on these samples in the next few weeks.
“This experience definitely helped me better understand how to use many of the [probeware: the thermometer, dissolved oxygen probe and salinity probe] in biology better and also how to better collect data,” Biology AP student junior Elise Witham said.