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TREX 2018 Day 2: Volcanoes, Rainbows, and Plywood

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TREX 2018 Day 2: Volcanoes, Rainbows, and Plywood

By Meghan Reisenauer ‘19

It was our first full day in Hawaii! We started off with a trip to Kilauea volcano, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We were treated to a gorgeous, vibrant rainbow as the conditions were perfect – sunny and misting lightly. Our TA, Ben, claimed there were four rainbows, but the rest of us only saw two, so you can judge for yourself how many there were. 🙂

Joey enjoying the rainbow(s)

Halema’uma’u crater in the haze

After a run to a Hilo grocery store to stock up for the week, we headed to Home Depot to get supplies for building mounts for our sensors and their energy source, solar panels. A long discussion about plywood sizes later, we were back at Kilauea Military Camp to get ready for mounting our air particle sensors! We headed to Pahala, near Hilo, where we went to the local Department of Health outpost around 2 pm.

Our professors and TA checking out the roof

Professor Kocar showing off the drone

Professor Kocar set up our drone for tomorrow’s field surveying, and demonstrated how it works to Ju and David. The TREX team worked together to assemble our plywood mount for the 14 sensors and their solar panels, then passed it up the ladder and secured it on the roof of the small building. We needed to make sure it wouldn’t blow over in the wind, so we slid some leftover wood pieces from TREX 2012 inside to stabilize it. Thanks, 2012 TREXers! David and I were up on the roof first, fixing the sensors to the wood, then Chang and James took our place to attach the solar panels. Everybody took a turn drilling the holes and attaching the joints while we built the mounts, too.

Constructing the mount

As I mentioned in my last post, each of us built two air particle sensors, so we each got to name two of our “box babies” this afternoon. I chose to name mine Pua and Lani, which mean ‘flower’ and ‘sky’ in Hawaiian, respectively. Joey named one of his sensors Prince, because of its faulty date calculator, which was under the impression it’s 1999. Although David’s Megatron had some issues with its battery, we got all the box babies up and running, and hooked up to the mount, just before dark. Soon, we’ll have enough data to compare with the Dept. of Health’s official sensors, to be able to tell how different our readings for air particulate matter are.

My box babies

Every year, a group of MIT students and professors travel to the Big Island of Hawaii to gain fieldwork experience through TREX (Traveling Research Environmental EXperiences). The first TREX trip was held in 2000, and since launching has taken students on research activities in domestic and international settings. For more undergraduate opportunities, click here.