AP Environmental Science Students Visit the Field Museum
by Elissa Borges
Ms. Qazi, along with a group of about 30 students, took a trip to The Field Museum of Natural History on Saturday, October 29 for an event through a program called WeDigBio. Students were given the opportunity to receive service hours while given behind-the-scene tours of plant fossil collections and helping to transcribe scientific data labels.
Over the summer, Ms. Qazi led a youth program at The Field Museum and was offered an opportunity to continue helping the museum as a Scientific Affiliate focused on Citizen Science Initiatives by the Head of Botanical Collections, Matt Von Konrat. She has also helped Dr. Von Konrat with his research on bridging Citizen Science to Education and is co-authoring in a publication with him. The paper will be published in Applications in Plant Sciences Journal soon. Because of this connection she has with The Field Museum, she was able to offer this opportunity to some of her students.
WeDigBio, or Worldwide Engagement for Digitizing Biocollections, is a four-day event that engages participants both online and onsite in an effort to digitize natural history collections to preserve centuries of data about life on Earth. Organisms being digitized include mammals, ferns, early land plants, insects, and fungi. The program hopes to engage students from around the world to see the collections as well as help contribute to the digitization of these organisms.
Students were picked up from Northside at 9 a.m. and taken to The Field Museum where they were given a tour of the third floor and shown the fossils that are displayed there. They learned about the history of the plant fossils, including the economic use of many of them in the past. They were given behind-the-scene access to see the way that these plant fossils were categorized. They were also given tours of ancient collections, the herbarium, and got the chance to touch a 300 year old fern fossil.
After the tour, students were divided into groups where they were given the location of plants, and were required to file them through an online program. They worked together to organize many different species of plants and digitize them. After completing the day's work, the students were dismissed to go home or stick around and explore the rest of the museum. Ms. Qazi said she looks forward to Northside students “gaining enriching experiences from this direct
connection, and through upcoming opportunities to work along with scientists.”