Test Preparation and Torture…

It is now December and testing has begun here at Brevard High School. Since it has been quite a while since our last update, here’s a recap. My partner Candace and I are attempting to discover music’s impact on the the cognitive process and mood. More specifically, how this affects high schoolers. Most of the time we are discouraged from listening to music while working because some claim that music is distracting. We are trying to figure this once and for all. Okay, now that we have refreshed your memory, onto the fun stuff. For the past few weeks we have been working tirelessly trying to create the perfect tests for our experiment. We began deciding an appropriate level at which to test our participants. After some consideration and helpful input from our peers, we decided that 7th grade would be good enough… Right? In hindsight, maybe we should have gone to 6th grade level instead. Anyhow, after we finally decided on what tests to use, we had to assemble them. We hand selected 15 questions from the 7th grade released math end of grade assessment and gathered some reading comprehension tests from the middle school. Sarah 2Now that we have assembled over 30 different tests consisting 3 math, 3 reading, and 2 mood tests each (It took an awful lot a paper…Just in case you were wondering), it is time to begin testing. First, we had to undergo the hard task of gathering participants and actually getting them to do what we needed. This was especially hard for me… I’m not exactly the most social person. Luckily my partner is more gifted in this area and has taken care of most of this. My partner has posted more about the actual testing process if you want to read more there… After all is said and done, it is time for me to grade everything. From this experience, I have learned that I could NEVER be a teacher. I have a newfound appreciation for you, teachers! Thanks for reading this long story and coming on this adventure with us!

Project Prep Time!

This year my partner and I will be tackling a psychology project. However, before we start, we have the exciting task of project set up. Of course, psychology projects require quite a bit of planning to ensure that everything goes as planned. First, we had to think through every step of our project to eliminate any excess variables. After about two weeks of planning, we met with a psychologist and determined that we needed to narrow our project so we changed a few things and now we have a good idea of what we will be doing for the rest of the semester. We started off looking at the effects of music on the cognitive process and involuntary actions (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). After deciding to eliminate tSarahhe involuntary action aspect, we wanted to study the impact of music on mood. As you can see, impacts of music was really the only constant thought in our ideas. We have finally decided to do the effects of music on the cognitive process and mood. Now, we have to fill out all of the paperwork that goes along with a psychology project. After two week of paperwork and signatures, it is finally time to start looking for participants and start up this project! Wish us luck!

Fungus from Beetle Guts?

Remember the traps we were telling you about and how we hoped that they would do well? Well… they did! They by FAR exceeded our expectations. In the few weeks and that the all twelve traps were up, we collected beetles from all traps four times and collected over 40 beetles! After we recorded all 46 beetles, we began the process of growing fungi. We selected the beetles that had the most similarities to the Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB) since our beetles are still, can you guess? That’s right! They are still unidentified. So, we just selected 20 beetles with the most similarities such as length and width, color, and body structure. We also tried to select at least one from every trap. Now… to grow fungus! It took about two days to develop a process that would be as sterile as possible. Our goal was to try to grow fungus that the beetle may or may not be carrying. We also wanted to test in interior AND exterior of the beetle. To keep everything as sterile as possible, we used the hood which is just a large hood that limits the amount of bacteria that the object comes in contact with. To do this, we first tested the outside of the beetle. Since we could not sterilize the outside of the beetle without killing any fungus, we could not take that extra measure of sterilization. To collect any fungal spores that the beetle may carry, we placed the beetle in sterile distilled water and put it in the vortex (a machine that mixes everything up). We then took a sterile swab and dipped it into the water and smeared it onto an agar plate and used parafilm (a stretchy wax) to seal the petri dish shut. Next we tested the inside of that same beetle. We removed the beetle from the sterile distilled water and placed it in ethanol to sterilize the outside of the beetle just in case the beetle carried two different fungi. Next we placed the beetle into fresh sterile distilled water and crushed it up. There is not a more scientific way to say that… is there? Then we placed it into the vortex, dipped in the sterile swab, smeared it on a different petri dish, and parafilmed it shut. This process is for one beetle. As you can tell… this took a LONG time. Next we hope to identify any fungus that we grow. Wish us luck with the rest of our project!
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Walnut Twig Beetle and Thousand Cankers Disease

Just some background for you!
Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) – A fungal pathogen that kills Black Walnut Trees.

Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB) – A beetle (Dark red, 2mm long) that carries TCD. The WTB has not yet been found in our area but it is very close. It was spotted in Haywood County in 2012. wtb

Lindgren Funnel Traps – A trap made up of four funnels with an aggregation pheromone to attract bark beetles.traps2traps

Black Walnut trees – A tree that produces a beautiful dark brown to almost purple color that is a major part of our environment. walnut-tree

Sarah and Crista have been hard at work designing traps to collect bark beetles, Walnut Twig beetles to be specific. They have created their own Lindgren Funnel traps based on the popular design and set them up near Black Walnut Trees. They have been setting their traps up all over the county. Maybe you have seen them! There are now traps at Brevard High School, Brevard Animal Hospital, Sycamore Flats, the Pisgah Ranger Station, Looking Glass Falls, along Rosman highway, and Brian Phillips lawyer. The traps will be left up for one to two months in hope of catching the Walnut Twig Beetle to study.