Saturday, June 24, 2017

Biosphere 2 Fun Times

Alan climbing ropes in the rain forest
Wrapped in vines, Yosgart falls to the rain forest floor while keeping his mango safe!
A great day at U of A
Cathy is having fun designing her own pizza
Cooling off in the B2 kitchen. Boy is that rain forest hot!

Rosalia is not so sure she likes the berries found in the Savannah
Yosgart enjoys a mango. Says it's as good as the ones in Acapulco

Friday, June 23, 2017

Biosphere 2 Leadership

Incorporated into the program is leadership training using the Social Change Model of Leadership. We teach the students to be leaders in caring for the earth. The week consists of a series of activities which cover the 7 C's: consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, collaboration, common purpose, controversy with civility and citizenship.

Collaboration- making pizzas together

Congruence- Writing our "I AM poems"
Consciousness of Self-Finding our commonality

Commitment-Dice game

Controversy with Civility- Designing an Ad Campaign

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Biosphere 2 The Science

Students arrive at B2 are put into research groups. This year there are two groups, one in the Rain Forest Biome of B2 and the other working with the Agrivoltaics site directly outside B2.

The first three days of the program are spent developing their plan, implementing their experiment, collecting data and analyzing their findings.

These pictures show the students in action during their first three days of scientific study.

The Rain Forest group determined the CO2 output from the trees in the Rain Forest and the Savannah of B2 calculating the diameter and measuring the CO2 output of multiple trees and scaling their data to include the entire biome.

Jamie attaches the mechanism for measuring the CO2 being released from the bark of a tree
Jabril hooks up the GasMet DX4105 to measure the CO2 collected at the tree
Yosgart explains how the GasMet DX4105 works to the other research team
Jacob is getting ready to measure the circumference of the tree
Dr. Joost van Haren- PI of the Rain Forest
Annie and Jacob are amazed at the height of the trees in the Rain Forest

Van is connecting the Licor to a plant leaf

Biosphere 2 Day 5

Today when our group went to the University of Arizona, I learned a lot about myself and how I am happiest when I spend time with people who are passionate about the same things as I am. We visited multiple labs and facilities on the campus where I finally got a real look into what my life may look like in the near future. When I came to the campus at the beginning of the day, I had very low expectations however I was surprised at the facilities had such as the tree ring exhibit, which was the first of it’s kind. Seeing this campus made me think about how I will go to college in a few years and this was a fun first experience to have at this campus.
The whole day in Tucson was very refreshing to me, even though it was 108 degrees outside. It was fun for me to experience the University of Arizona campus because I had only ever spent time with my peers inside and around the biosphere. My favorite part of the day was in the large planetarium when the presenter told us about the stars and talked about zodiac signs. I had a great time trying to interpret different constellations as well as learn more about the layout of our stars.
I had an excellent time today and I learned so much about myself while also learning about our planet. I found that I love to learn things that I wouldn’t typically learn in a regular environment. I also learned that I value friendships very highly and I love the fact that I have become friends with many of the people on this trip with whom I normally wouldn’t cross paths.

Working on our Arizona State Museum assignment
Submitted by Jamie Snell      June 22, 2017

Today at the University of Arizona we visited a couple of labs but what I found most interesting was meeting a man named Tyler. He is a scientist at the University of Arizona who also worked at Biosphere 2 and is studying photosynthesis in trees. He told us how he created a machine that would help him with his research. He connected it to a machine I am familiar with, the IRGA. He explained to us that the machine uses the same red and blue lights from police sirens because the light they give out is similar to the light plants absorb from the sun.  What I found the most interesting was that Tyler wasn't an engineer. He learned to create and operate the machine by himself without having a degree in engineering. The machine is now getting interest from others in the science community who are trying to do plant research. This means Tyler is going to be able to sell the machine and earn money from it. I could tell Tyler enjoyed what he did and that really inspired me to continue trying to find something I love too. I think it is really cool that even people with a Ph.D are still able to continue learning and I hope to be able to do the same in the future.  

Talking with Tyler about his research at U of A
Submitted by Alonzo Mendoza
June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Biosphere 2 Day 4

"Gummy Gloves"- finding our commonality
Where do I start ? Today was one of the best days of the week for me. I bonded with all of the people here and got to know them on a personal level which was great because it showed me how alike we are and how everyone goes through so many different things you would never expect. Not only that but I feel like today was just a day full of laughter and joy starting off with my Rain Forest group. While we were finishing our tree measurements one of the guys tripped on a tree branch and got tied up in the vines while he eating a mango. Instead of helping him we all started recording him laughing with our phones. Another thing I liked about today was during dinner we were telling stories that happened throughout the day and I could not stop laughing with everyone. Everyone was laughing so hard our stomachs started to hurt. After dinner we did some trust activities with everyone; I feel that helped everyone get even closer even though we have been together for a few days.  Overall today was just a day with good vibes, learning and growing with each other. I really started appreciating each and every person even more than I did in the beginning of this program.

Submitted by
Rosalia Gallardo    June 21, 2017

After a long day of hard work measuring tree diameters, looking at carbon emission levels, and plugging data into excel, it was honestly the most fun out of all days. We enjoyed the heat of the rainforest biome playing hide and seek. When one of our partners got caught in a vine, it made us all laugh.  We also ate lunch at a local caterer called Nona Maria's. We made our own pizza and then ate it. We are done with our measurements for our rainforest project and we are doing pretty well.

 Submitted by Jabril Adan
June 21, 2017
A pizza party at Nonna Maria's with chef and owner Frank

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Biosphere 2 Day 3

Today was a better day than yesterday, not because of what we did, but because of the quality of my thoughts. The first day was tiring and draining for me personally. The second day was more of a settling in day for me. Today, I woke up and told myself it was going to be a productive day, and it was. I truly believe in the quality of your thoughts, and I know for some people like myself, it's hard to continuously think positive thoughts but simple positive reminders in your mind can change your whole day. My group did our research outside in the Agrivoltaics and worked with the LiCor machine, which was interesting, but what I really enjoyed was the group activities at the end of the day. I loved playing games and interacting with each other without having work to worry about. I love games that let us connect not as students, but as kids who came to enjoy their time and each other's company. I enjoyed hearing each other's stories. Some made me laugh while some made me want to cry and connected me more with my peers. 
Van contemplates what this all means as she combats the heat of the desert
    Although today is only the third day we've been here, it feels so much longer because I personally feel so much change and growth in myself not only as a student but as a person. I've learned about improving myself from Susan; she's someone I truly admire and enjoy listening to. I feel like she could see through my soul. To be honest, I'm someone who puts in no effort or attention to subjects I'm not passionate about. What we're doing is interesting, but I'm not passionate about it. This trip has made me become more open-minded, and although I'm not passionate about what we're doing, I learned to be attentive and engaged in it. I’ve learned that if you don't automatically shut out something, you could learn to truly enjoy and maybe even become interested in it as time goes by. I’m learning to take everything day by day and not look forward to the end of the day where I could lay in bed, but truly enjoy the moment I'm living in right now because I know later on this will all be in my memories, so why not enjoy it while it lasts? 

Submitted by Van Truong
June 20, 2017

Yosgart samples a tasty mango on a break from collecting data
Today was an unforgettable day. At first I thought doing the research, measuring trees, and searching for how much CO2 was being emitted was going to be boring! I couldn't be more wrong. For the first part of the research project I was measuring the trees in the first floor of the rainforest biome. I greatly enjoyed this part. At first I was a bit scared of the roaches, ants, and especially the spiders. After moving a couple vines and having close contact with these animals I quickly discovered they are harmless and are actually probably the cleanest roaches, ants, and spiders in the world. After lunch I got to measure the amount of CO2 being emitted by the trunks of the trees. For this part of the day I mostly worked on the third and second floors of the rainforest biome. This work really made me realize I actually like studying the environment. I enjoyed this part of the research and feel like I learned a lot about not only the trees, but also how to measure the CO2 they emit. Overall I feel it was a very good day. I look forward to continuing my research. I loved working on the third floor of the rainforest biome. Because it was so hot and humid, it reminded me of my hometown.

Submitted by Yosgart Miranda
June 20, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

Biosphere 2 Day 2


Cynthia diligently takes notes about the Biosphere
Today we toured Biosphere 2 which was my favorite part of the day. We started around 8 am and met our tour guide, Katie. She was really nice and shared a lot of information on all the biomes. When we first walked in I was really happy that it had air conditioning and the first lab we went into had cool sea animals such as fishes, crayfish, and hermit crabs. We started walking into the biomes and it was really interesting when we learned how they were using fish feces to grow the plants in the first section. We then walked to the desert and learned about how the trees were slanted because they don’t receive the support from the strong winds in an actual desert to be able to stand straight. We then walked to the marsh which didn’t seem as interesting to me after we walked through the tunnels to the ocean. When visiting the ocean I was informed that when the ocean was left unattended throughout the years when Columbia University left, a lot of algae and fungi formed in the ocean and they began to brainstorm ways to get rid of it and decided to use hermit crabs to help clean the ocean. Last but not least, we went to the rain forest which was my favorite part because the leaves were really green and I thought everything looked really pretty even though it was really humid.

Submitted by Cynthia Castro

Jacob is getting set to measure
the circumference of the tree
 Today, we took a formal tour of the Biosphere 2 facilities and most of its supplemental components. I was completely blown away by the complexity of the different biomes located in the main building as well as all the advanced technology used to control the environment. Our research group was able to explore the nooks and crannies of the rainforest biome specifically because most of our research will be conducted there. We entered the rainforest through a connection from the savanna and were instantly blasted with sticky, thick air which temporarily impacted our breathing patterns. As we walked down the trail to ground level, our legs were engulfed by thousands of ants which left us feeling uncomfortably close to nature for the next few hours. Joost, our head researcher, led us on a hike to the top of the artificial mountain in the middle of the rainforest. At each elevation of the mountain, the temperature progressively increased; so much so that at the peak of the mountain, all of the research group was drenched and dripping in sweat.

    The research group was able to scout out candidate trees for our experiment as well as test-run the equipment needed in order to make the next day’s research run smoother. As we scouted for possible species, we encountered some wild fruits like Barbados cherries, sweet mangoes, and budding figs which distracted us from the heat for a while. When we came to a decision on the tree species we would test, Joost educated us in the preliminary procedures for conducting our research, and gave us several tips to maximize our efficiency and results in the rainforest. Our time in the rainforest flew by fast which was a blessing in disguise because we were becoming weary from the heat.
Submitted by Jacob Vu

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Biosphere 2 Day 1

    During the tedious one hour drive from the airport to Biosphere 2, I could feel myself slowly becoming more and more tired due to the day’s long journey. However, my tiredness began to recede as we drove into the territory that Biosphere 2 occupies, and caught sight of its massive pyramid and dome. As we got closer and closer to our destination, I could do nothing but press my face closer to the window of the car, and stare in awe at the seemingly impossible, but amazing engineering feat, wondering how many bright minds, novel ideas, failures, and breakthroughs contributed to its development. The pyramid stood tall and proud, reflecting the sunlight amidst the tan earthly backdrop provided by the mountainous desert terrain of Tucson. The dome looked like something straight out of a futuristic science fiction movie with its geometric design pattern. When we finally arrived at our final destination and unloaded our belongings, I could not help but look back one last time at the Biosphere 2 structures, before heading to the casitas, feeling undoubtedly more excited for the coming week and looking forward to the incoming plethora of new experiences.

Submitted by Annie Yu  6/18/17

Holly and Annie making new friends at the Tucson airport with Jamie and Van.

I think something the academic connections program does really well is gear students toward self reflection, team building skills, and leadership improvement. One of my favorite activities we did was write about our hopes, goals, and fears we have for the rest of the week. For each section, all we had to do was write down a couple of things we would like to accomplish during the program, skills or experiences we would hope to gain, and a few things we feared. At first, I didn’t see the relation between this activity and the rest of the activities we would be doing throughout the week, but I then realized these notes would help keep us on track. I think now with these guidelines I have created for myself, I will gain the most out of this program. I am also interested to see how I change throughout the week: will I reach my goals, will my hopes be fulfilled or changed altogether, and will my fears disappear? I think this activity will prove to be one of the most helpful tools we get to use throughout the program, and I am excited to see how I progress.

Submitted by Holly Murphy 6/18/17



Biosphere 2

B2 Complex
Savannah Boardwalk
Ocean Biome
Rain Forest Biome

Biosphere 2 Fun Times

Alan climbing ropes in the rain forest Wrapped in vines, Yosgart falls to the rain forest floor while keeping his mango safe! A gr...