On Monday, October 1st, the freshman class at the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt visited the Harpeth River, at a beautiful stretch of its snakelike path through Davidson County and Middle Tennessee. The yellow Metro Nashville Public School bus pulled into picnic shelter number 11 at the beautiful Edwin Warner Park, located just a few miles from the School’s lab at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Light Hall.
The students were out for a field trip with the intention of gathering data to assess the health of the stream. They were learning to use all manner of field instruments–digital levels, digital pH probes, GPS devices, and scientific magnifier lenses–and how to record and interpret the readings and observations from those instruments in meaningful ways. They also used their hands and their feet, “kick seining,” stirring up the stream to capture macroinvertebrates and capturing downstream-bound critters in a fine mesh sein, or net. The collected debris from these efforts was transferred into glass petrie dishes, where careful observation would identify the inhabitants of this watery evirons–would they be only the sort of creatures that could survive in polluted environments, or would they find more sensitive, delicate species that would indicate the river is satisfactorily healthy? Well, final interpretation of findings would have to wait until later, when all the data would be compiled back at the lab. For this episode of S4theB! you’re out here on the river with the students, listening in on the process.
The voices you hear will be those of students, their talented teachers, and the occasional crow, along with that of Pat Holiday, retired USGS ranger and geologist (and also Brittainy’s grandfather!). You’ll also be treated to two very nice bites of wonderful music, “The River,” and “Fire Dance,” from Jesse Manno. You can pick up these songs or the entire album, “Sea Spirits,” for a song at Magnatune.com! Alrighty, stalwart listeners, listen up right here or click “Links” up top to use the Podcast Pickle player at the site!!!
And BONUS!!! here’s a slideshow of pictures from the river visit: