Today our AP Biology class went on a field trip to Save the Bay at the Palo Alto Baylands! We went specifically for their program known as D.I.R.T. – Digging Into Restoration Technology, and really spent our time there learning all about these amazing marshes, and got to work by collecting firsthand data.
While I learned a lot of new and interesting information, some pieces of new science that really stuck out to me were:
- What the Bay Area tidal marshes have been taken over by and harmed in past years. A couple examples are the introduction of landfills and careless littering for a long time and the building of cities, such as Foster City on top of these amazing marshes, destroying habitats and forcing species out.
- How to collect data at different plots starting from the tide of the marsh to its peak where it reaches level ground. We collected data from 5 separate points and took down information in regards to Biodiversity of Species, Soil Moisture, Soil Salinity, Soil pH, and Soil Texture. For Biodiversity, we observed the different species of native and non-native plants and then using the Simpsons Biodiversity Index, calculated this information to get a general number that related to the diversity of that specific plot point. Next for Soil Moisture, Salinity, and pH, we used different tools to place into the dirt sample we dug into in order to get accurate data for each point. Soil Texture enabled us to get in close contact with the dirt where we performed a test by grabbing a ball of dirt, squeezing it, and observing its texture.
- All of the different native species that we observed while collecting our data. While there wasn’t necessarily a large amount of different species, the ones we saw were very new to my eyes and interesting to dive into learningabout! For example, when our instructor pointed out this bush to us towards the level ground area of the marsh, he mentioned its scent similar to that of sage, and that’s when we learned it’s also named after it, being Coastal Sage Brush!
Another important aspect of today was making connections between our AP Biology knowledge and the information we learned at Save the Bay! Two connections that I made after reflecting on this field trip were:
- How important it is to learn about biodiversity both in the classroom and out before one’s very own eyes. Biodiversity is vital to Earth’s success, and the success of restoring life back to its natural state! After learning what biodiversity was beforehand, this field trip really enhanced my previous knowledge and gave me insight into the passion behind keep our beautiful world full of biodiversity.
- If restored properly, native species of their intended habitats will succeed in their growth during this saving process. As we have learned in class, plant and animal adaptations have been the key to their survival and evolutionary development. In the restoration process, these native species should eventually flourish and strengthen if they successfully adapt and evolve to their habitats.
One memory that I would like to share about my experience is that I was the one in my group who took one for the team and did the Soil Texture test! More often than not, I would probably find myself deciding against being the one to put my hand in muddy or worm-filled soil, however today I went for it! I honestly thought it was super fun to observe hands on what I was learning about, all while being able to share the data necessary for our graph!
The service learning aspect of this trip impacted me because it made me very appreciative of all the time and effort Save the Bay and its volunteers put into restoring and caring for our beautiful environment. I am grateful for learning all of this amazing information about our local Baylands because it made me aware of the human impact we have on nature, but if we go about change in the right way and spread awareness, we can make this a positive impact!
If I were to change anything about my experience here at Save the Bay, it would be to put hands on effort into this direct restoration process, whether that be through marsh clean up or plant native species of plants in the ground, I think it would take this learning and awareness process to a whole new level. I would definitely recommend this trip for others, as I learned a lot and got to get out into nature during a school day… how awesome is that?! Perks of #APBio3 with an amazing team!
This field trip was very worthwhile to me because I was able to made multiple connections between what I have been learning in the classroom and what I was learning out at Save the Bay. It feels great knowing that what I learn can be applied in so many fascinating ways out in nature, and to observe this knowledge firsthand! This field trips should for sure be done again, but just to warn everyone to wear scarves and layers because it was chilly!
*Images were all taken by me!*