A Week in the Life of a Sophomore River Fellow

GPS Blog
During a week of learning, planning, traveling, and water sampling, the sophomore River Fellows were tasked with writing about their adventures. Here are the highlights! (To read their complete write-ups, click here.)

Day 1: Macy Poole explained the group’s desire to continue working on the project they started freshman year—comparing the water quality of streams and rivers in our local watersheds to those in Chile, explaining the importance of controlling as many variables as possible with the data sets. She explained, “We noticed the places we had sampled locally did not really match up with the ones we sampled in Chile. We wanted to sample sites here that would be more similar to the ones we did there.” Skip to an unsuccessful vehicle bluetooth pairing, a successful lunch of turkey sandwiches, and time spent in two states simultaneously (OK, maybe just it was just a foot over the state line into Georgia), they collected their samples and were back to campus!

Day 2: Outlined by Mia Brunetz, the second day of the experiential learning week featured two special guests: Ms. Segroves and Mr. Arick! After working through their packet and reading and discussing an article, they got to work collecting water samples. Unfortunately, Mia explained, they ran into a bit of an issue as they revisited some sites from the winter to re-sample. “There was a common denominator with all of our sample locations having less water than in January.” However, a “lively discussion ranging in topics from Avengers to Silvannah” kept spirits high. From there, it was back to campus to start refining individual project ideas.

Day 3: Soleigh Kueter explained they started the day harvesting in our own backyard—the GPS Garden! (The produce grown in the garden is donated to the Chattanooga Area Food Bank.) Next, it was further project development. Soleigh said, “Our individual projects for our sophomore year were getting more developed with us beginning to look at a variety of elements in the project. These included survey questions, start up cost, demand, competition, development and more.” They were able to get feedback on their ideas when they met up with the Chattanooga As Text (CAT) program participants to give each other their elevator pitches.

 Day 4: Time to venture out into the community to interview locals! After the fears of a parking ticket were assuaged, the Fellows talked to some folks at Warehouse Row before returning to campus to interview Mr. Glass and then heading back out to the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI) to partner with employees on individual projects. “All of the specialists were very helpful and we were all grateful for their contribution to our projects,” Mia said.

Day 5: Pitch day! Faculty, staff, and current River Fellows in other grades were invited to the official Project Pitch in Caldwell Commons, where they were encouraged to offer feedback and constructive criticism to the presenters before they launch their projects this fall. Macy detailed her plan to create an invasive species pamphlet that focuses on three specific invasive species in Tennessee: the silk tree, the tree of heaven, and the princess tree; Mia discussed her plan for a filter that removes microplastics from the river without harming other species; and Soleigh presented her idea to create a documentary that educates people on environmental issues affecting the Tennessee River.

We can’t wait to follow along all year as our sophomores continue to research, collaborate, and inspire positive change for our community!