Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We got a late start on the research today but that's better than nothing. We started by gathering the material we would need for collecting leaf samples; envelopes and a stapler, two very long pruners, a camera, a field notebook, liquid nitrogen, and a marking pen.

Take a closer look at the above photo. Is there something wrong with this picture? Bottom right corner of the box. Yep, liquid nitrogen was leaking out of our styrofoam box.

Uh-oh. "Professor, we have a problem," I said as we listened to the dripping of the nitrogen hitting the floor. "Hmm, that's not good," he said casually. "Hmm, well, it's just nitrogen."

The liquid nitrogen was going to be used to freeze the leaf samples. Oh well. We just let it leak all over the place.

So, we continued on our way to the field to collect leaf samples.

We collected cottonwood tree leafs with our hands, about a dozen from each tree. We stored them in an envelope, marked the tree number on the envelope, and put the envelope in the empty, styrofoam box. After taking a photo of the tree we collected from and writing down where it is located (for future coring of the same tree), we moved on to the next.

After collecting from seven different trees, professor wanted to play with his new "toy." The toy was a 30 foot leaf pruner. Here it is, not even at it's full extended length:

He pruned some high leaf samples off a tall cottonwood with his new toy and we hand picked some lower samples. Tomorrow, we're going to look at the difference in the tannin (if any) between the lower and higher leaves. (Psst. Tannin - a bitter tasting chemical made by the tree to protect it from being eaten. Difference in levels will help us determine the potential of the tree as a biofuel and give some clues to how climate change has affected them).

I'm super excited for the lab work tomorrow. LOVE SCIENCE.

It's cool the extra things you learn along the way. I now know what this flower is that I've been seeing on my runs. It's Dame's Rocket, more scientifically Hesperis matronalis, part of the mustard seed family.

1 comment:

  1. This SO interesting. I am fascinated by what you're doing and why you're doing it, and love that you love science! Great job, Ashleigh!