Sunday, December 9, 2012

Late Night Science

One of the things we have been trying to complete in our last week at camp is an experiment designed to determine how much nutrients leach out of various inputs by animals. We had been delaying this experiment in hopes of getting our machini up and running so we could analyze the samples in the field, but we finally had to just accept that we will be transporting a few hundred more water samples back to the US with us for analysis. I'm pretty excited to see the results from this, but I will have to wait until January to do the analyses in the lab.

Basically, this experiment entails us having a kiddie pool in our yard filled with lots of bottles full of hippo poop and rotting wildebeest meat. This is the second time we have done an experiment like this in camp, and I have no idea how we have gotten away with this without having it destroyed by wildlife. I actually did wake up at 4 am a few days ago to the sound of plastic bottles being gently chewed on, and peered outside to see a curious hyena standing over the pool. However, it had only managed to remove a few bottles from the pool before I scared it off, and only one sample was lost.

Due to our especially busy schedule recently, we have ended up working on this experiment several nights late into the evening. We have a pretty good system worked out by now. Geemi collects a bottle from the pool, reads the dissolved oxygen content and collects an unfiltered sample. Then Chris and I collect one filtered sample each using a syringe with a filter apparatus attached. When we get into a groove, we can knock this out in a couple of hours, but it is still pretty exhausting to be doing at 10 pm. The other night, Chris set up a camera so we could catch some pictures of science in action.   

Geemi reading DO on a sample

Geemi completing an unfiltered sample
Chris and Amanda filtering samples
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