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TREX 2018 Day 7: A Very Rainy Day

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TREX 2018 Day 7: A Very Rainy Day

By Joey Noszek ’20

The two groups from yesterday switched projects today. Therefore, I was working on the precision agriculture project. In the morning, Professor Kocar completed the connection of the FLIR camera to the drone. Also, James flew the drone for a few seconds, proving that the new camera did not add too much weight. Now, we can collect data for both near and far infrared. At least, we can if it does not rain.

This side of the island was host to an absolute downpour this morning. Before we left, it was fairly clear that we would not be able to fly the drone. However, a little bit of rain would not stop us from collecting samples. There was, however, a lot more than a little bit of rain and thunder alongside it. As we approached the farm, we realized that we would not be collecting samples today.

Mr Han’s cornfields on a day with better weather. Photo: Meghan Reisenauer

We turned away from the farm and returned to the house. There was still work for us to do. Nothing had yet been done to the samples that were collected from the farm yesterday. James and I proceeded to test the pH of the soil samples. This was more difficult than expected since our probes did not agree. We then tested five pH probes to find that two of them got results that were close to each other. After finding agreeing probes, testing pH was simple.

Soil samples, ready to be baked. They start to look like cookies when you get hungry.

After James and I finished testing pH, we examined the ears of corn. I measured the lengths and circumferences before and after shucking, while James photographed the corn and recorded the data. During all of this, Ju put a portion of each soil sample in foil cups that she made. This soil is currently being baked. Tomorrow, the soil will be removed from the oven and the mass differences between today and tomorrow will be used to examine moisture.

I never expected that I would one day shuck corn for science.

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.