Naturalist Perspectives Assignment 1: Observation Transect in Site Alpha

With the weather generally warming up, it’s time to launch the Naturalist Perspectives part of our course. This ongoing project will focus on connecting course topics to the natural environment around us.

To get started, watch this Climate Wisconsin video on phenology to gain some perspective on the value of observing nature in our lives and in our society. We’ll springboard off these ideas in the Naturalist Perspectives assignments and challenges over the coming weeks.

Then, please work on the first assignment, due March 27th, by following these instructions:

  1. Obtain a notebook that you can bring out into the field.
  2. Set up a blog with a blogging service of your choice; as we’ve discussed in class, a blog will be a great way to collect and share your ideas, photos and more. Here are some blogging services that were mentioned in the last class: Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Squarespace (know of one not mentioned here? tell us about it in the comments section of this blog post).
  3. Share your blog’s web address (URL) in our MyLesley discussion board.
  4. Choose a place that you can regularly visit during the course of the semester that you feel connects you to nature. It should be a place that is safe, where you can spend a periods of time comfortably making observations. We’ll code name this location Site Alpha as a way to easily refer to it.
  5. Sometime this week or weekend, visit your Site Alpha (the place you’ve selected) and take the time to simply use your senses (likely vision, hearing, smell and maybe touch) to just observe for at least 10 minutes. Do not use any technology, do not take any notes. Please use your best judgment to stay safe; please do not touch anything that may seem harmful.
  6. Record your observations, impressions and thoughts in your notebook. Be sure to record the following: date, time, weather conditions and location (as specifically as possible; if you’re in a park, record the part you’re in or landmark you’re close to)
  7. Then perform an observation transect as we’ll discuss in class on Wednesday, March 22nd (if you want to do this during spring break, find a transect protocol and make observations along it instead of recording data). Carefully note the path of your transect so that you can carry out the same transect in the future. Record your observations in your notebook. Feel free to collect information with sketches and photos.
  8. Post your description of your observation transect on your blog. Be sure to include enough information and explanation to give us a detailed and thoughtful summary of your transect. Start your blog post with the following information: date and time of your observation transect as well as location and weather conditions.

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