The 2021-2022 San Francisco University High School AP Environmental Science students participated in a 10-day hybrid research program with Headwaters Science Institute, exploring how abiotic factors influence biodiversity. Starting Monday, Sept. 13, the classes met with Headwaters Science Institute Program Director David Dimitre via Zoom in their classroom, who introduced students to the process of field ecology research, prompting students to ask valid scientific questions that were answerable in the field. In the following classes, David and two local graduate students (Ana Lyons, Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, and Leo Rodriguez, Masters candidate at San Francisco State University) introduced students to the tools and techniques used by ecologists to take a wide variety of data in the field.
In groups, students designed standardized protocols to answer their questions on-site in the coastal hills of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, near the Marin Headlands Visitors Center. On Saturday, Sept. 18, the class spent the entire day in the field in their research groups taking samples and recording data. Most of the research was conducted along the Miwok Trail and the Bobcat Trail with permission from the National Park Service. In the following class, students used statistical analyses to determine if their data was scientifically significant and concluded the implications of the data on the ecological health of the local ecosystem. Students completed the program on Wednesday, Sept. 22, by making formal presentations on their findings to their peers, discussing how certain abiotic factors (topography, elevations, soil nutrients, etc.) impacted biodiversity (species richness, population density, etc.)