Increasing and Communicating our Scientific Understanding of Dunes
FYRES students and FYRES Research Mentors advance knowledge by investigating interesting questions about the dunes. In many cases, the research question is of particular interest to a specific person, group or organization, such as state or county park managers or a conservation organization.
FYRES research teams are constructed from several first-year students and one or two Research Mentors. Early in the fall semester, the Mentors do preparatory work on the topic while the students are building their research skills at different dune sites. Then students and Mentors work together for roughly six weeks to design and carry out an investigation of the topic. Most Mentors continue the research into the spring semester. The research projects are communicated in several venues:
- The students give a poster presentation at the Calvin Environmental Assessment Program (CEAP) poster fair.
- The students give an oral presentation to an audience including their classmates, faculty/students from of the Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies department, and area dune managers.
- Mentors present the projects at a regional conference,such as the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters in February 2014.
- Mentors produce a written report on the research projects.
FYRES itself is a research project to investigate whether/how participation in research helps students learn about science. The investigators who have focused on analysing the FYRES experience include two faculty (Deanna van Dijk, Crystal Bruxvoort) and several students (FYRES Coordinators Merideth Beukelman and Jake Anderson, and the FYRES Mentors in 2012-2013). Presentations on their results are listed under Conference Presentations.