Yesterday we had our first field trip of the 2019 MERO program! We started off the year with a tour of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, which is a nature reserve and research station owned by Stanford University. It is also a perennial favorite hang out for MERO students! Scroll down to see photos of our students exploring the reserve, checking out the wildlife, and having a lot of fun!
Our students loved getting a close look at wildlife with our full set of binoculars. Here are two of them learning to use the binoculars while looking at ducks on Searsville Lake.
Posing for a photo while learning about biodiversity. We did a biodiversity scavenger hunt to see who could find and document the greatest variety of life.
Left to right: MERO co-founder Ahzha McFadden, 2019 participant Rina, and 2019 student coordinator Jack looking cool on the Searsville Dam. Jack participated in the 2017 MERO program and was thrilled to be back at Jasper Ridge as a student leader.
Over the next four months, we'll be going out to the field every two weeks with these students, doing hands-on ecological research and exploring beautiful natural areas.
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We kicked off MERO 2019 on Wednesday with a family dinner and information night, featuring special guest and Stanford professor of biology Rodolfo Dirzo. Thank you to all of the families for coming out and to Rodolfo for your inspiring presentation. We have a very enthusiastic group of students this year, and we're looking forward to our first day in the field next week! Stay tuned for photos, videos, and stories from the field!
Introducing Jack- our 2019 MERO student coordinator! Jack participated in the MERO program of 2017 and is now back in a leadership position. We are very excited to have him! To help you get to know Jack better we have a short interview with him below.
Question: What grade are you in?
Jack: I am a Junior this year at M-A.
Question: What MERO event are you most excited for?
Jack: The trip to Monterey! I want to see the animals again and spend time in nature and at the beach.
Question: What was the best part about participating in MERO in 2017?
Jack: The sandwiches!* And going to Jasper Ridge. I liked seeing the animal prints, bones, and the scientific cameras. I liked using the camera traps to see what types of animals live there.
Question: Why are you excited about being the MERO 2019 student coordinator?
Jack: I will be able to help people that do not speak English and help them be better in English and encourage them to stay in school. I can also encourage them to learn more about science if that is something they want to do.
Question: What do you like to do when you are not at school or MERO?
Jack: I like to go on long bike rides and fix bikes. I also like to spend time with friends and eat or help them fix their bikes. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I work at McDonalds which is good for me because I get to practice my English with a lot of different people.
Thank you Jack! Stay tuned for a video tour with Jack at Jasper Ridge coming later this season!
*Jack is a very enthusiastic eater of MERO's famous ham and cheese sandwiches. Many students share his enthusiasm for the sandwiches.
The last few weeks we have been busy organizing our 2019 program. This year we received a record number of applications which is very exciting but also made it difficult to choose which students will be part of our 2019 group. We are excited to announce that we have an awesome group of students this year and will be kicking off our 2019 program with a family night dinner and info session in just a few weeks!
Also, stay tuned for a post coming up soon about our amazing 2019 student coordinator Jack who was an enthusiastic member of our 2017 group of students!
A group of MERO alumni hit the rocks yesterday at the Planet Granite rock climbing gym in Belmont! This was the first time any of them had climbed, but after getting roped in they gave it their all and every one of them made it to the top on at least one route. It was really cool to see them step outside of their comfort zones and push themselves to try something new and a little bit frightening. Our favorite part was seeing the smile on each student's face when they came down after accomplishing something they didn't think they could do. Thank you Planet Granite Belmont for hosting us and making this event possible!
Marco getting roped up, climbing, and coming back down after reaching the top.
Left: Alexia nears the top of her first climb. Center: José pushes himself on a 5.11! Right: Guadalupe gives a thumbs up from the top.
Post by Ahzha McFadden
The new school year at Menlo-Atherton High School started last week. With the start of the year comes a whole lot of new faces. There are the 150 new students in my history classes, many of them new to the country and almost all of them new to the school. I can't help but wonder which ones will want to join MERO when we begin recruiting in January. There are also many old faces, past MERO students dropping in to say hi during lunch or stopping by in the morning for a granola bar if they missed breakfast. One face I'm sad, but also proud, not to have seen this year, is that of Wuendi, our first MERO student to graduate. She participated in the 2017 MERO program, and we were really excited to watch her walk at graduation last June!
With the craziness of the end of the school year we never got around to posting pictures from MERO's end of the year BBQ and awards ceremony. On one of the last days of school the MERO family gathered for one last time before summer break at Flood Park to grill up some burgers, eat lots of cake, and celebrate the accomplishments and dedication of each of our students.
Alex receives his award.
Guadalupe receives her leadership award for all of her help and hard work as our MERO student coordinator.
Katherine receives her award with a smile.
Tyler grills up some burgers for the hungry kids! The BBQ was after a long day of final exams and everyone was ready to eat and relax in the park.
Last Saturday we took our second annual trip to Monterey, CA! We started out at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which for many students was their first ever aquarium visit. Their favorite part was probably the open sea exhibit, which features a giant tank (just the viewing window measures 90 feet across!) full of sharks, tuna, ocean sun fish, and a huge school of sardines. After leaving the aquarium we stopped for a pizza lunch at the municipal beach. Despite the sub-60 degree water temperatures, some of our students just couldn't resist the urge to take a swim. After lunch, we headed out of town to the Elkhorn Slough Estuarine Preserve, where we took a wildlife watching boat tour and got to see sea otters, sea lion, seals, and birds up close and personal!
Posing for a group photo. Thank you Janet and David for helping lead the trip!
Getting to feel a bat ray's skin in one of the touch pools.
Staring out into the open sea exhibit. This tank is so big you can't see the back of it.
Spying otters and diving sea birds from the aquarium's balcony.
Looking up at a school of sardines swimming in synchrony.
Hot day but cold water!
On the boat.
Looking out at harbor seals sunning on the shore. These animals sleep all day and eat all night, which our students thought was a teenagers dream lifestyle!
Checking out their first California sea lion as we left the marina.
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!
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!