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SAS Students Study from Field Science

January, 2013
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Late last fall, students from Shanghai American School Pudong’s IB environmental systems and AP science classes took a trip to Chongming Island to investigate the island’s wetlands ecosystem. Students investigated the Dongtan Wetlands Reserve and National Wetlands for a day of serious field science. They looked at everything from flora and fauna surveys to original scientific investigations.

sas-field-scienceAs part of the IB program, students are expected to perform scientific investigations known as “internal assessments.” These IA’s, as they are known, are expected to be original scientific investigations that require students to design rigorous investigations, implement their own protocols and methodologies, collect and process field data, and finally present, analyze, and evaluate their data and findings. 

Prior to the all-day field trip to Dongtan, the IB students spent class time designing their investigations, assembling their materials, and making necessary plans in preparation for getting out to the field to get their data. And they did an outstanding job making use of their field time to collect some fascinating data to be processed and presented.

SAS students designed many original and interesting investigations. Some examples include investigating the impacts of varying amounts of dissolved oxygen in water on the diversity of microscopic and macroscopic fauna found in the locations studied. Another student investigated the degree to which total suspended solids (water turbidity) impacted the amount of photosynthetic plankton in the water. One IB student investigated the degree to which the flora of the area affected the wind velocity and potential for wind as an alternative energy source for the area.  

SAS AP Environmental Science (APES) students undertook a different activity while in Dongtan. AP students had been studying the details of ecosystem and community ecology, so the students spent their time documenting the various levels of the trophic pyramid, trophic relationships, and the various types of symbiosis, such as parasitism, mutualism, and commensalism. Students also worked hard to create a detailed species list to which they could apply complex formulae, such as the Simpson’s Diversity Index, to determine the overall biodiversity of Dongtan’s fauna. All of this information culminated in a detailed college-level field report.

While the day was drizzly and chilly, the students worked hard and made the best of it. Students were treated to many species of birds and insects while at Dongtan. They missed the peak of the migration by a few weeks but the students were still able to view several hundred waterfowl and wader bird species. They were treated to the bugling-call of a hidden common crane as well! And one pair of students was lucky to see a very elusive mammal, the rare Chinese bamboo rat!  


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