Posted: November 28, 2016
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Living out the Scientific Method in Tanzania


In honor of Directed Research month, I will express the DR experience in terms of the scientific method.

Background information
Going into directed research, we were given different topics that each professor is offering for the semester. This is both an exciting and nerve-racking time in the program. We are able to choose from everything from elephant foraging patterns to the impact of climate change on biodiversity and culture.

Everyone had completely different research questions all illustrating a different facet of northern Tanzanian research. My question revolves around how climate change influences culture within three different tribes, Maasai, Datoga, and Hadzabe, in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem.

My initial thought was that 10 days of data collections, 5 days of data entry and analysis, and 5 days of writing would go by very slowly with intensive moments of collection. I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of collection and the group bonding over data entry. We still have writing and presenting ahead of us and I believe that part of the process will fly by.

For my project:
• Seven excited students ready for interviewing
• Four skilled and experienced translators
• Hundreds of interview questions
• Lots of pens
• An amazing professor
• Welcoming Tanzanians!

• Spend 10 days out in the field learning as much as you can about everyone’s individual projects
• Come back together at camp and analysis all that you have learned
• Write it all up
• Present your projects to the community and organizations in Tanzania

Results for my project are not complete yet. In a general sense, this program has changed and impacted each person here. We have all grown and learned more about what we all want to do for the future.

Discussion and Conclusion
Two of the biggest takeaways: Shoats (sheep and goats) can make anyone happy and pole pole (“slowly” in Swahili) should be a universal saying.

Mbuyu is the Swahili word for baobab tree. These trees are important to the traditional religious beliefs of the Maasai. When the community needs rain they come to these trees and sacrifice goats and sheep in the pursuit of water

This is Soda. There are always a ton of puppies around during our interviews!

→ Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania

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