In the last several weeks of my internship we concentrated on reinvigorating the urchin larvae growth experiments, which I discussed in my last report. We spent much of our time on the kayaks collecting water samples in the morning with the plankton net and then searching for the correct type of microalgae on the microscope in the afternoon. After a while of not using the microscope, it took a bit of time to adjust to staring at it for so many hours, but I eventually got the hang of it.
As my time in Galapagos went on it was clear that we were really focusing on the in-lab science portion, mostly because of scheduling. Often times we got to work, organized the lab, weighed algae samples that were drying for several days, and then prepare and label new samples for drying. Other days we simply spent organizing databases and occasionally there were the lucky days when we got to go kayaking to collect microalgae and sea urchin larvae samples. We usually spent those afternoons looking in the microscope.
Among many important lessons, I learned that one summer or nine weeks is not nearly enough time to try and change or even tweak a system that is set in its ways, even with the participation of many local and enthusiastic scientists and educators. An effort like this requires much planning and a strict schedule of how time must be divided between lesson planning, working with local teachers and organizing meetings. On that note, I’m looking forward to my future as a science educator and to spending far longer than a summer trying to improve and ‘localize’ a science curriculum.