It was 7 a.m. on a dark Saturday morning and we were on our way to Bamfield. I felt prepared, but I didn’t exactly know what to expect from this AP Environmental Science field trip. I had four raincoats packed for the harsh rain storms we were expecting, and as we ventured on the five-hour bus ride to Bamfield, I was thinking about how we were headed to the middle of nowhere on an island to stay in tiny camping dorms. Finally, we arrived at the modern Marine Sciences Centre, complete with fancy dorms, proper showers, great meals and only light rain – but I was still right about it being in the middle of nowhere!
This AP Environmental Science experience is a four-day field trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, a remote research station. During these four days we accomplished almost 30 hours of lab work, field work, workshops and presentations. We spent time in the intertidal zone and the temperate rainforest, we designed and carried out our own experiments, and learned many techniques relating to environmental science.
Our group may have only spent four days there, but they were long, learning-filled days that started at 7:30 and ended at 9.
We conducted labs on different marine phyla where I got to flip over starfish, while some of my classmates played music to “rocking crabs” to test the rate of mobility depending on different lighting environments or the music’s BPM.
The weather fortunately wasn’t a complete disappointment. We got quite a bit of rainfall when we took a boating excursion to test salinity and temperatures of the water at different locations.
We also got to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton for observation and identification, which was quite fascinating to see. (It was also funny seeing the disappointment on Ms. Webber’s face when she discovered that she had not discovered a new species of zooplankton.) We even got to tackle serious matters like the pollution and plastic in our ocean, and its effects on the lives of sea and shore birds.
I also love forests, so being able to explore second-growth and old-growth forests, and learn more about biodiversity was one of the highlights of this trip. Our teachers and student leaders did a great job at teaching us more than just the concepts and materials, but also the importance of the knowledge and helping us understand why we’re learning about these environmental topics.
On one of the more memorable nighttime excursions we collected seaweed on a beach and then ate it. We also got to go out and see bio-luminescent plankton! (It’s amazing seeing it in person; from the pictures of glowing ocean shores you could swear they are Photoshopped – they are not!)
This trip was quite eye-opening for me as I learned more about the relationship we have as humans with our environment. It was not just learning about how we contribute to global warming, but how even our small actions matter – like supporting sustainable fishing by asking how the fish was caught or where it came from next time you eat at a seafood restaurant.