Monday, September 30, 2013

Restoration Ecology Field Trip


On Wednesday at glacial park we spent most of the day clearing out invasive species in an area, and planting seeds and watering trees in a different area. Although the clearing out gave more of an initial feeling of gratitude and a better visual of what we were doing, planting and watering also gave a benefit to the area, even if we couldn't see it. Restoration ecology is something everyone should be involved in, to help the environment they are destroying. There isn't a downside to restoration ecology except for the manual labor you have to put into it. It is definitely worthwhile because in years to come the earth is going to be in a worse ecological state because humans have spent hundreds of years destroying what is naturally around them, and shouldn't we fix what we destroyed? I think so

  Before we started hacking away the invasive species
After we got a lot of chopping and removing done, you can see the difference and see more through the area where we were attempting to get it back to its original state.

Colin White:

I found going to Glacial Park fun and exciting. I learned a lot about the importance of restoration ecology and how much work goes into it. Once i started getting deeper into the brush, it was great helping each other and using teamwork to clear everything. Afterwards, seeing the changes we had made was instantly gratifying. One could see how much clearer the area looked. Doing this was my favorite part of the trip. However, I still did enjoy watering the small trees and planting acorns. It was a nice break from all the physical activity and I still felt the difference I was making. I liked the hands-on experience of the trip and the real world application of biology. I thought it was a worthwhile investment of our time to be there and that we had some effect on the ecosystem. 

Lab partner planting an acorn

Me and my classmates clearing honeysuckle and buckthorn 

Colin Schenkel:

When we first got to the section that we were going to clear out it looked like this.  It was all overgrown with plants that weren't native to that area. 

we cut this down

This is what the area looked like when we were done. It was all cleared out. I do think that the restoration ecology is worthwhile, because It helps the environment by letting all the natural species come back. It takes a lot of work, but I enjoyed the immediate satisfaction of seeing the work I did. Other benefits are that it provides new habitats for animals that have fled to other areas, like the coyote and the badger. In addition to clearing out the brush, we also planted acorns. This also helps by providing habitats for things
 like birds and squirrels. I don't that there is and downside to restoration ecology. I'm glad that we got to go out there and participate and see what good it can do. 

When we first arrived I was amazed by how much land was at the facility and how beautiful it all was. At that point I was excited to help out with restoration of the land. When we got to the clearing of invasive species station, I didn't realize how much of the plant life was an invasive species. 
Here is me sawing down a tree (behind the giant one). Some of the invasive species we cleared included honeysuckle and buckthorn. After we cleared brush, we moved to plant acorns to help restore the natural trees. 
Here's me planting an acorn 

I believe restoration ecology is am important part of the quest to save the ecosystem because it helps restore the natural habitat, which will and is leading to native animals coming back, such as badgers. I feel like the long process is worth it in the end to see the forest look like it did before European intervention. And hopefully the work will not be ruined by invasive species coming back. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Acids & Bases Lab

Purpose: The purpose of the experiment was to observe how different substances react to pH changes in their environment.  The dependent variable was the pH and the independent was the substances that HCl and NaOH were being added to. We were trying to find how well substances resist change to pH.

Introduction: Substances have molecules within them that react when acids or bases are added to keep the substance at a certain pH. When H+ (acid) is added these molecules called buffers dissociate to be able to accept and bond with the H+ so it doesn't affect the original substances pH.

Method: During our experiment, we would take two samples of a substance. We would add an acid(HCl) to one and a base(NaOH) to the other. We added drops of the acid/base in 5 drop increments, stirring afterwords, and used a pH probe and our LabQuest 2 to record the pH; we repeated this until there was a total of thirty drops added in total. Based on this info, we were able to determine the change of pH for each sample and a buffer range for each substance.

Our Data

Class Data
Graphs & Charts:

Discussion/Conclusion: In our experiment we tested different solutions to see what their reaction with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide would be. We tested water, orange juice, antacid, and sodium bicarbonate. Orange juice and sodium bicarbonate had a bigger range when it reacted with the base. It went up higher after fewer drops making the pH go up to as high as 11 in orange juice and 9.1 in sodium bicarbonate. Water was out control group, that started as neutral and then when the acid or base was added it changed accordingly, bases making the pH go up, acid making the pH go down. The antacid also had a large range from the acids and bases at the end. As far as validity goes, we cannot be completely sure how valid all the answers were because in the experiment when we were done with one substance and changed to another, we didn’t completely wash out the beakers, we just rinsed them, so that could have contaminated it. Also, we only did one trial with all of these so there could be outliers that tampered with the experiment and changed our results, so if we had a chance to do it again we would add more trials to see if our results differed. The results of the investigation support what we thought would happen. The water changed a fair amount, but what was already acidic or basic changed even more because the hydrogen bonds are not present in these other substances, adding to a greater buffer range.