Thursday, March 13, 2008

Data Loggers Have Arrived

When my package from Onset Corporation arrived in the mail this afternoon I was like a child at Christmas. I quickly tore open the box with excitement. The box contained a set of HOBO Data Loggers that record temperature and light. We are going to use these data loggers in my Science for Educators class as part of our phenology study on the campus of Lasell.

When we return from spring break, we are going to start observations of spring phenological events. We are going to watch for things like bud burst, flowering, and leaf out in vegetation. We can compare the timing of our observations with those recorded by Henry David Thoreau about 150 years ago. Thanks to Abe Miller-Rushing and Richard Primack from Boston University, we have a spreadsheet of thousands of phenology observations for hundreds of species made by Thoreau. By comparing the same species we can look at how the timing of spring events have changed and question whether we are observing global warming.

The data loggers add two new variables to the project. Now, in addition to just time, we have temperature and light levels. We can analyze data and explore the impact of temperature and light on phenology events in vegetation. Analyzing raw data is one of those experiences that makes students uncomfortable but I think they gain so much from it. Finding patterns and meaning in their observations is great way to introduce these future educators to science. I am looking forward to spring and the opportunity to return to studying the environment in the environment.

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