Class on November 2 2017

Bruce started by fielding any lingering questions about the Yurt and what students saw in the Yurt on Tuesday.

Katie suggested being surprised by how critical the lag was to having a satisfying experience. Bruce talked about shared use of the computing cluster and callibration issues that came from heavy use of the Yurt before we had our field trip.

Lexi mentioned that the human heart visualization was the most compelling of all the demos the students experienced.

Rob suggested that the virtual Martian landscape was probably the most relevant to the PODS program because the technique could be used for all kinds of virtual Narragansett Bay data experiences. Chris agreed and suggested simulating the underwater lighting could be very interesting for discovery effects.

Rob turned the discussion towards the class projects. First he reminded us of what equipment was available for getting more data for those who wanted to use it: 20 thermistors for temperature, 4 thermistors of both water level and temperature, 4 salinity and temperature sensors, and the castaway (for salinity and temperature at multiple depths during a cast).

Chris suggested we all get in a circle and have a grab bag Yankee swap. Students each wrote a question of interest on a piece of paper and shuffled them before picking one each. As they chose, they could keep the question they had or trade it for a question from another student that had been picked.

After the students settled on a question and read it aloud, Rob asked who was keen to explore their question most. We spent the remainder of class considering three of the questions:

1. Will fresh rainfall increase salinity in the lower pond (Ruth's question)?

Opinions varied as to whether salinity would increase/decrease or stay the same. Gavin offered an idea that the additional rainfall would compress the existent salinity downward so some levels would see an increase. Chris explained the esturine flow idea that new rainfall could set up a flow such that an equal amount of saline water would need to move out to compensate for the flow of new fresh water (thus decreasing the salinity at levels). Bruce wondered what effect the shape and height of the sill would make to salinity change.

2. Is there a correlation between salinity and tides (Katie's question)?

We noticed that the lower pond is more salty but that the profile of salinity at specific higher depths is the same as lower depths in the upper pond. Rob asked the class if they thought that was evidence of how salinity moved from lower pond to upper? The students were appreciative of that example of evaluating evidence and we all seemed to sense a deeper level of complexity involved in the mix of salty and fresh water (given just a few forcing agents to consider). Bruce wondered what is the effect of the age of salty water (water trapped at the bottom of a pond)?

3. Does wind intensity effect salinity (Josh's question)?

This question drove a thought experiment as to whether water mixes in place or mixes and moves and what the resultant differences might be to a particular location's salt/fresh water profile.

As homework, students were asked to further these questions, the questions they had picked in the swap, and any other questions that arose from their thinking.