Directed Research is, for lack of a better word, a “storm”, and for good reason too. It begins with the calm, the final Cairns weekend. It’s the students last time together on their own before the end of the semester. Upon their return Sunday night, it’s just a short night’s rest later before it finally hits.
Dawn breaks, breakfast is had. Students and staff are running about organizing equipment, cars, and themselves. It’s day one of a long three weeks ahead. The data collection process is not to be underestimated. Whether it’s fumbling around with a 6-foot slingshot to retrieve canopy samples, creating a homemade turbidity measuring device, fixing a micromesh net with holes in it, or observing a tree kangaroo named Nelson who won’t cooperate, every research project has its challenges, but the students endure. They push through the struggles and frustrations to get the data they need.
The easiest part is arguably the gathering of the data; it is the analyzing and shaping of that raw data into results relevant to the students’ theories that is the hard part. Once the data is collected it’s time to put their noses to the grindstone and make the data mean something. Like a sculptor shaping soft clay into a masterpiece the students will do so too. As a team they will cultivate their research and protect it in the storm as they piece out the puzzle of what fits where in their theories and how to mold their data.
Soon the storm will pass, and students will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Often they look back on this challenging experience and smile, seeing the storms past and remembering what they learned and the bonds they formed during it.
It’s an incredible sight to see such passionate young people striving to better themselves and better the world around them. Seeing them work so hard toward one goal is extraordinary, especially considering that only a short time ago many of them were bright-eyed high school students at one of the biggest crossroads of their lives. The future of the world is in all our hands and few have made a conscious effort to do something about it. I hope that for these students, their time here at SFS Australia helps them in all their future endeavors of making the world a better place.