Last week MERO got a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the coolest labs on campus. The Flight Lab studies the way birds and other animals fly to inspire and engineer the next generation of flight technologies. In the lab we got to stand inside a wind tunnel which researchers use to study how birds and small planes respond to turbulence and other wind conditions. We then walked across campus (taking lots of selfies along the way) to the cactus garden, where we used the lab's high speed cameras to take slow-motion videos of birds flying in the wild.
Taking a peek inside the wind tunnel.
Using a high speed camera to take super slow-motion videos of birds in the Stanford cactus garden.
Last weekend we did the first ever MERO backpacking trip! After loading up our packs and giving a big 'arriba MERO!' group cheer, we hit the trails at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in the East Bay. Only two of our students had ever been camping before, so this was a really cool experience and something totally new for all of them!
Laying out the gear at the trailhead.
This backpack's bigger than me!
Lunch consisted of a big stack of sandwiches prepped the night before.
Hanging out around camp...get it??
Posing for a photo after exploring one of Black Diamond Mine's namesake abandoned mines. This one went back almost 200 feet!
The calm before the storm...enjoying a few quiet moments before everyone wakes up!
This week we took some of our participants from last year's MERO group out on a reunion hike at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve. It was a lot of fun to get back out in the field with these familiar faces!
Having a picnic dinner looking out over the Bay. Sure missed those ham and cheese sandwiches we make every week!
Got a flat driving back to the school, so we got the chance to teach the students how to change a tire! Building those important life skills is what we're all about!
That's right! We had heard rumors of some recent cougar sightings at Jasper Ridge, so we decided to go out looking for them. Two weeks ago our students set up eight camera traps to get a better idea of what might be lurking in the oak woodlands we hike through each week. On Tuesday, we went back to recover the camera traps to see what we found. Scroll down to see some of our favorites!
Elisa showing off her camera. Low to the ground to catch anything walking by.
Marco putting in the memory card and turning on his camera.
Downloading the photos onto the computer.....the suspense is killing me!
A male wild turkey strutting his stuff
A grey fox peeking around a tree which fell down the night before.
A female mule deer enjoying the lush spring grass. And now for the coup de grace!
A bobcat on the prowl! And checkout the time in the bottom-right corner. It shows up just a minute later at a different camera in the next photo!
Say cheese! Thanks for making it through all the way to the end!
"Hello my name is Guadalupe Garcia. I am a junior at Menlo Atherton High School. I participated in the MERO program last year and had a wonderful experience as I had the opportunity to see the animals very close in their natural habitat. I learned many things about the ecosystem and the animals in this program. It is worth mentioning that while I was learning something new I also had a lot of fun. Tyler and Ahzha are amazing people* because they speak two languages and it is easy to communicate with the other participants of the program and help us inside and outside the program. This year I am the student coordinator of the program and I like it a lot because I can help others and give ideas for the activities of the program. I also like to be in this program because it will help me to be an ecologist."
* We promise we didn't tell her to say this! That's just how nice she is.
About 80 students from 4 local high schools participated, taking part in panel discussions on college and financial aid, visiting active research labs (where they got to touch a human brain!!!!), and braving the rain on a campus tour. We're really proud of Jack, Guadalupe, and Jeremy for taking a first step towards a career in the sciences, and are excited to see what they do in the future!
Yesterday we had our first field trip of the 2018 MERO program! This year we have 13 participants, plus a student coordinator who participated in the 2017 program. Check out the photos below of the group exploring the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve!
Learning how to use the binoculars while observing a great egret (Ardea alba) on Searsville Lake at Jasper Ridge.
Turkeys can fly!!!
Posing for a photo after finishing a biodiversity scavenger hunt.
Just when we were leaving a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) came by looking for its fish dinner. The first time any of us had seen a bald eagle at Jasper Ridge!
MERO co-founder Ahzha McFadden just received a $5000 Bay Area Inspire Award* to support the 2018 MERO Science Program!! Thanks to this generous award, and the support of many individual donors, we are now fully funded for the 2018 year! Thank you everyone for your incredible generosity!
Learn more about the award here:
*The Bay Area Inspire Awards program was started in 2014 by a group of Bay Area residents interested in building a better community for all residents. This year the program is supporting six 18-30 year olds in Alameda, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties with innovative ideas for improving social equity.
Welcome to La Mera Ciencia, the official blog of Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO). Founded in 2017, MERO is a free, after-school environmental education program for high school English Language Learners that gets students outside doing ecology. "Mero" (or "mera" for feminine words like ciencia) is Spanish for "legit" or "the real thing", which is exactly the kind of science we do in the MERO program!
We'll be starting the 2018 MERO program soon, so stay tuned for updates and pictures from the field. In the mean time, please like us on Facebook and check out our website to learn more about our program and the awesome students we serve!
Two students from the 2017 MERO program getting a close look at baby frogs during the Stanford BioBlitz.
Welcome to La Mera Ciencia, the official blog of Menlo-Atherton Ecology Research Outdoors (MERO). Founded in 2017, MERO is a free, after-school environmental education program for high school English Language Learners that gets students outside doing ecology. Mero (or mera for feminine words like ciencia) is Spanish for "legit" or "the real thing", which is exactly the kind of science we do in the MERO program!