The Indoor Wetland
Believe it or not, you don't have to go outside
to visit the Sanborn Wetland. Here in the Project World room we have our
own indoor wetland housed in a fish tank. This "wetland" was created by
Mr. Gaudet one fall day after a recent rain filled the wetland with water.
The surface is covered with an oily material that is also found on the
water outdoors. The water below is dark and murky. But underneath the lights
the water is teeming with miniature life. You can watch all sorts of creatures
swim and scuttle across the banks.
I explored this miniature indoor wetland with
intern Kelly Corbelle. We were hunting for caddis fly larvae. We didn't
find any, but we did find bright orange water mites, pill bugs, worms,
snails, spiders, and almost microscopic little insects swimming near the
surface. Other creatures were mired in the mud and crawling through
Several students have studied the microscopic
bacteria living in the wetland. Becky Thayer, a senior in Project World,
spent time studying life in the indoor wetland as one of her projects.
She set up a microscope and made slides of the bacteria she found there.
She learned to identify many of these species with help from intern Vinny
Johnson. For her presentation she used the microscope, computer, and television
to take videos of the bacteria she found. Students in Project World often
stopped what they were working on to watch curious creatures crawl across
the television screen. So, on a rainy day stop by the computer lab to check
out the scene. Don't let the appearance of the tank scare you. It might
be a little broken down and cruddy, but there is a world of life hidden
in the apparent darkness and grime. You might be surprised to find a mini
ecosystem squeezed in between the Macs.