On Tuesday the 23rd of September our 6thyear Biology class went on an excursion to Emo Park , Portarlington, for an ecology field-trip. Armed with shovels, plastic containers and an array of other scientific implements such as light metres we boarded our bus and the adventure began.
Led by our intrepid leader we, the pseudo-ecologists, anticipated a day of high-jinx and discovery in the scenic woodlands and beautifully enchanted world of Emo Gardens. Unusually and perhaps even portentously the sun shone on us as the bus wove its way through traffic bound for the Ploughing Festival, but we forged onwards towards the frontier of our education. Our enthusiasm was boundless and thoughts of a day away from laboratories, language classes and the mundane buoyed all. We prepared for our excursion, journeying in the cramped space of the bus as it belched diesel fumes into the air. The irony escaped us all.
We arrived at our destination punctually and were greeted by picturesque visions of nature. Glistening ever green trees and blossoming flowers encumbered the path-ways upon which we walked to the area of practice. Following instructions we divided into groups and commenced with our studies. The first task was simple we were to set a pitfall trap; this consisted of digging a hole in the soil and placing a plastic cup in place. This was then covered with leaves to camouflage the trap and left in the hopes of deceiving passing creatures into falling into our trap.
After finding and identifying, using keys, five flora (plants)and five fauna (animals), we were given the task of finding the frequency of these 5 plants in the area under study. This was considerably more entertaining. We did this using a quadrat
Using a line-transect and light meter we investigated if there was a correlation between light intensity and the growth of different plant species. Our results clearly indicated that in the areas where plants received more sun-light, they prospered and in the zones of lesser light intensity growth was inferior, in many cases detritus was only present.
The next to-do sparked enthusiasm in us all in some cases it excited pupils a little too much. We were given the task of beating a tree with a stick, although this sounds a little archaic it served a valuable ecological purpose. This allowed us to shake small organisms from leaves and branches and collect them in a pooter for further examination.
On concluding our practical work we sat in the shade and documented our findings, this was a far more traumatic task as we were under attack from a swarm of wasps. When the majority of our write ups were complete we stepped back onto the bus and began our journey to the long awaited McDonalds.
With full stomachs and tired minds we began to meander home. Aptly we arrived back in the school just in time for double Biology, where we concluded our write ups and evaluated the day.
Overall it was a very educational experience that enhanced our knowledge of the parkland ecosystem and an enjoyable day out of school. On behalf of my class I would like to thank Ms Hayes and the people over in Emo for arranging and allowing this study to be done in Emo Park.
By Siobeal O’ Toole