PhD candidates Katie Gaines and Ashlee Frederick led a group of 6th grade students from the Philipsburg-Osceola Middle School on a field trip to the Stone Valley Research Forest. Ms. Gaines and Ms. Frederick have been CarbonEARTH fellows with the NSF GK-12 program for the past two years. In this program, Penn State graduate students hone science communication skills while partnering with elementary and middle school science teachers to teach science classes on a regular basis and bring their research to the classroom. Ms. Gaines taught her students about the carbon cycle in forests during the fall semester and the students carried out a research project investigating the amount of carbon storage in the forest on the edge of their schoolyard. They spent the spring semester learning about feedbacks between vegetation and climate, plant and animal adaptations, and plant phenology.
The first half of the field trip was field-based with a session led by Ms. Frederick on soil texture using soils from two different areas of Lake Perez. Ms. Gaines led tours of the Shale Hills catchment, focusing on showing a sap flux study in progress, a project on tree roots, and precipitation sampling equipment. The second half of the field trip included a tour of the Eissenstat Root Ecology Lab at Penn State and finished off with a trip to the Berkey Creamery to celebrate the end of a productive year.