Thursday, April 17, 2014

My Creative Inquiry Experience

Me, Sarah Hoffmann (CI student), and Kylie Smith
Summer 2013 was my first trip down to the middle Florida Keys to assist Dr. Childress and Kylie Smith with data collection.  I was lucky enough to return to help again during fall break in October and recently took my last trip as a creative inquiry student over spring break.  With the end of the semester nearing I felt that writing a post reflecting upon my creative inquiry experience would be appropriate. 

Working underwater in the Keys
 Down in the Key we are working on collecting data for Kyle Smith’s master’s degree.  We sample 14 sites for parrotfish density, parrotfish feeding behavior, and reef substrate composition.  This year I have been working on the data we have collected pertaining to the parrotfish feeding behavior.  We follow fish around for approximately three minutes and we assess what they are choosing to eat based upon their species and age.  This data has allowed me to present a poster at two different campus events, the Clemson Biological Sciences Annual Student Symposium and the Focus on Creative Inquiry poster session.  In addition to the posters, I gave a talk at the annual Benthic Ecology Meeting in Jacksonville, FL.  This was a huge opportunity for me because it was my first talk and it was the first time our lab had undergraduates (Sarah Hoffmann also gave a talk) giving a talk at this meeting.  It was a great learning experience and a terrifying, albeit rewarding task to tackle.   
2014 Focus on Creative Inquiry 

            I have been working on this project for four semesters now and the amount of knowledge and practical research skills I have gained is infinite.  The mentoring and teaching I received from participating in creative inquiry has helped to shape my desire to peruse a career in the marine sciences field.  Creative inquiry has afforded me the opportunity to travel down to the Keys three times over the past year and travel to two conferences, and for that I am immensely grateful.  I would not have the skills or knowledge without this program and I would encourage every undergraduate to find a creative inquiry project that would benefit their career goals and to do it. 

            This class has prepared me for the next step in my life as I go on to an internship working with sea turtles at the Bald Head Island Conservancy, and eventually when I enter graduate school.  While I am sad to be leaving and I am leaving grateful for the opportunities I was given in this creative inquiry. 

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