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TREX 2018 Day 6: Moving Day #1

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TREX 2018 Day 6: Moving Day #1

By Joey Noszek ’20

The government shutdown ended today. That’s great! While we are still on this side of the island, we will be legally allowed to explore the park again. There is also a possibility that we may place some particle sensors in the park. Unfortunately, though, the shutdown did not end early enough to prevent our evacuation of Kilauea Military Camp. We have transferred to a nearby house. It is nice, but a tad small for the lot of us. In memory of our stay at KMC, I would like to show you this graph, made from data that was collected in the kitchen of our house. One of our particle sensors was in the kitchen for a time and it was certainly affected by cooking. The first spike occurred when David was cooking bacon Saturday night. The second spike is the result of people, making eggs and toast for breakfast Sunday morning. The third spike came from a lit match.

Graph of kitchen particulate matter.

We began the day by packing for the move. Due to a shopping trip that we did not entirely think through, this process involved me, drinking four tall glasses of skim milk. I love milk, but I do not recommend this. After packing, we split into two groups: one to work on the precision agriculture project and one to work on the particle sensor project. I was in the latter.

The last particle sensor in Pahala

First, we returned to the air quality station in Pahala to retrieve all but one of the sensors. Then, we returned to the house to analyze the data. In our analysis, we found that the sensors largely agreed with one another. Also, it appeared that particulate matter increased as the wind became more directly from the direction of Kilauea. These are both signs that the sensors are working properly. The next step is to place the sensors at different points on the island to see what data we can collect.

Wave crashing on a black sand beach

After our analysis, we went on an excursion. First, we stopped at Punalu’u Beach, a black sand beach. Then, we went to South Point, the southernmost point in the United States, to watch the sunset. It was beautiful to see the sun dip below the vast expanse of water. But there was one quite welcome surprise. Although it was faint, we saw a rainbow at sunset at South Point. That was incredible.

Sunset at South Point

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.