Seniors travel to Texel, conduct field experiments

At 7:00 in the morning on Sept. 25, two buses filled with 59 seniors departed from the ASH parking lot, headed to the Dutch island of Texel.

Natasha F., Editor-in-Chief

   For most students, a Wednesday morning consists of preparing for the school day ahead. For ASH seniors who take an IB Science class, waking up last Wednesday morning entailed mental preparation for three days of muddy boots, wet lab notebooks, cold fingertips and constant fatigue. 

   At 7:00 in the morning on Sept. 25, two buses filled with 59 seniors departed from the ASH parking lot, headed to the Dutch island of Texel. “The bus ride was definitely the highlight of the trip,” senior Ella K. said.

   Students were placed into groups, each with a representative of one of the IB Science courses: Computer Science, Physics, Environmental Systems & Societies, Chemistry and Biology. Due to the overabundance of Biology students, there was a separate representative for Higher Level and Standard Level Biology in some groups. 

   Students spent the first day exploring the mudflats with the help of scientists from the Ecomare Lab. The researchers taught students about the local wildlife of the region, which included crabs, cockles, mollusks, oysters and various plant species. “We go to a different location every year,” said Biology teacher Timothy Gurney, who has served as the leader of the trip for the past eight years. “This was the first time in four years that we went to the mudflats. I like this ecosystem a lot because it’s full of animal life.”

   Other ecosystems that seniors have visited in previous years include salt marshes and sand dunes. In addition to Gurney, other teachers on the trip included Jade Gardner, Andrew Alfano and Ineke Luxemburg. In total, nine teachers accompanied the students for the entire duration of the trip. “I like everything about the trip, except for the sleep deprivation!” said Gurney.

   During days two and three of the Texel trip, the students were required to design their own overarching question that applied to all the scientific disciplines. Within this umbrella question, each student came up with their own research questions specific to their particular science. The students then collected data in the field and experimented in the labs to answer their questions.

   “One of the most stressful parts was definitely coming up with a question,” senior Wout S. said. “Also, figuring out what you were supposed to do in the lab was hard. I was working with a potassium testing kit, which was something I had never done before. It had instructions and all the materials were right there, but it took some getting used to.”

   “My experience was totally different,” Ella K. said. “My group came up with a research question super quickly. The lab wasn’t stressful. For me personally, the struggle came with getting all the data I needed in the given amount of time.”

   On the final morning, students presented their work to their classmates and teachers before heading back to ASH. Overall, the students gained experience and knowledge that they could not have obtained by just sitting in a classroom.

   “One thing I think should change about the Texel trip would be the number of laptops, so that each group member can work on their data processing at the same time,” Ella K. said.

    “I would also extend the length of the trip to maybe a week to provide more time for data collection. Three days wasn’t really enough to fully develop the skills that we need for our IA’s,” senior Dineo K. said. “The trip could become a better teaching experience.”