Over the past few weeks of our field site, we have been doing LOTS of talking. We have devoted countless hours to discussing various aspects of our research, including the survey which we will be sending out to Nags Head residents. While our survey and background knowledge for the capstone will be vital in the next few weeks, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for a change of pace. This week was the first time we as students were able to go out to our different sampling locations to collect our water samples. When we first began discussing the instruments we would be using at the sites and in the lab, I was quite nervous and unsure if I would be able to understand much.
Most people at the field site are either environmental science or studies majors, but I have not had much experience with science at all. As a political science major, I have been mostly in humanities classes which means I knew virtually nothing about the collection and analysis of our samples. Earlier in the week, I was getting pretty anxious about not knowing if I would be able to pull my weight with the rest of the group.
Thanks to how helpful Lindsay was by devoting her day to spend with each group, I was able to fully understand how the instruments worked and was able to participate with my classmates. Once the process got started, it was not intimidating at all and I ended up enjoying it. I was able to use the YSI tool to gather measurements of various factors that impacted the water quality at the sites. I also learned how to measure the depth to the water from the top of the well using a probing instrument.
After spending so much time watching online lectures and having recitations, it was refreshing to be able to get some hands-on experience for the day. It was also quite rewarding for me personally, as this was the first experience I had with collecting data and analyzing it. While the collection was fun, my favorite part of the day was going back to the lab to prepare the samples for analysis the next day. While it was time-consuming, it was nice to see how we are able to take the samples and make something out of them. It was satisfying to make everything come together and give meaning to our water.
Overall, I am grateful for this experience and how it pushes me out of my comfort zone. The field site is allowing me to expand my skill set and become a more well-rounded student and individual. At times I still feel a little lost when everyone starts using unfamiliar science-y jargon, but I like knowing that I am able to learn something new every day.
~Gabriella Paone (Class of 2023)