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TREX 2018 Day 7: The best things happen unexpectedly

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TREX 2018 Day 7: The best things happen unexpectedly

By Ju Chulakadabba ’19

Today we again divided into two groups. My group had Joey, James, and Ju. The other team went to deploy the air quality sensors, while our team headed to the field. Unfortunately, after an hour car ride, we arrived at the field and found that a storm had hit the area too badly, so we couldn’t do our work. There was a lot of lightning and crazy rain. The locals said Hawaii rarely gets these types of storms, which meant we experienced something rare! So, Prof. Kocar decided to take us on a scenic route and get some milkshakes and smoothies instead.

To make our day a little bit more productive, we headed back to the cabin and started working on the chemistry work. Instead of learning the chemistry in the lab, we did the work in our cabin. But things didn’t go as we expected.  The pH probes did not give us the same values. So, we had to calibrate and test all five pH probes we had. Eventually we could match two probes that give closest results to one another. I also learned to how make baking boats for soil samples from aluminum foil.

After testing the pH, taking pictures of the corn samples, and weighing the soil samples, our day came to an end. It was already 7, but the other team had not come back yet, so I offered to cook dinner for everyone (four of us.) This was my first time cooking for my professor. It was great. Ben seemed to enjoy my pineapple chicken and bok choy stir-fry. This was also the first time that Joey tried bok choy, and he liked it. We did not expect today to end like this. Anyhow, today turned out to be one of the best days in Hawaii so far. The four of us had a really good bonding day.

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.