About makoquahjones


The Good, the Bad and the Posters

Today we created works of art. Team Zaaga’igan printed out our posters and marveled at the finished products of hours of hard work. It definitely is an artistic skill to make a research poster. I feel like my partner, Ida, has the skills necessary to make a poster look great, I just have the stubbornness to not stop until it’s done. All in all, nothing compares to the feeling of seeing a 3×4 work of art that you worked so hard on all summer represented by a single pdf document.

This marks the second to last week of our internship and the last few days leading up to the date that our final products are due. We have been feverishly writing and rewriting abstracts, sending e-mails up to the deadline of abstract submissions for upcoming conferences and having our words critiqued over and over again. It’s all worth it in the end when you’re standing up there answering questions about complex research feeling like a rockstar when people respond to your poster with oohs and aaahs. I think one of the aspects of internships like this that bond students together is the common struggle of arriving feeling like you’re in over your head and leaving feeling like you potentially could be the next expert in the field. (May be slightly over exaggerated.)

Ida and Ma'Ko'Quah get some last critiques from mentor Chad Yost on their research poster.

Ida and Ma’Ko’Quah get some last critiques from mentor Chad Yost on their research poster.

Jordan and Jesse bask in the after printed poster glow.

Jordan and Jesse bask in the after printed poster glow.

Last Video Conference, End in Sight

Today we held our last videoconference for all of the teams to update each other on the hard work taking place. For Team Zaaga’igan, it was always a new setup for each videoconference. As fun as they were, and informative, the fact that this week’s conference was the last one lets us know that the end of our internship is in sight.

Team Zaaga'igan preparing for final videoconference using Emilia's computer, Chad's cord and Christa's tv, mic and speakers at the Cloquet Forestry Center.

Team Zaaga’igan preparing for final videoconference using Emilia’s computer, Chad’s cord and Christa’s tv, mic and speakers at the Cloquet Forestry Center.

Afterward, we had our weekly challenge where we learn some facts about doing science. This week we did the “tube challenge.” Our mentor, Christa, created these tubes with strings attached to something on the inside of the tube, where we had to recreate models of the already prepared tubes. This was meant to incorporate all of the lessons we’ve learned so far: what science is, using our senses to gather data, working from limited information and disproving hypotheses. We split up into our lake teams and went to work. For Team Sandy Lake, Ida and I did our best at replicating the tube that we hypothesized contained rope and a large metal washer attached.

Team Sandy Lake (Ma'Ko'Quah and Ida) attempt to create a model using a Pringles can, large metal washer, string and tape.

Team Sandy Lake (Ma’Ko’Quah and Ida) attempt to create a model using a Pringles can, large metal washer, string and tape.

In the data home stretch…




This week for team Zaaga’igan, we are finishing up our data analysis in the lab. Each team is at a different stage in analyzing our phytolith slides. But, I’m pretty sure we are all at the same stress level. Even though we’re excited about having data to work with, analyzing data and trying to understand it is driving us all a little crazy. Below is a picture of Jordan, Jesse, Ricky and Emilia inputting data into excel spreadsheets and their facial expressions show how confusing this step can be. (Except Emilia, she’s pretty content.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Below is a picture of Ricky explaining the phytolith concentration equation to Ida in order to calculate our results from Sandy Lake.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thursday, Thrill Day


For Team Zaaga’igan, our Thursdays consist of a hands-on group learning activity in the morning, our all-team videoconference after that and then we spend time writing. The learning activities are engaging, laid-back and fun while usually teaching us something about science. This week we learned about using our senses to make observations and hypotheses. Our on-site mentor wrapped 7 2x2x6in boxes with tape and gave our teams 3-5 minutes to write down observations using our senses. Then based on our observations, we wrote down our hypotheses about what was in the boxes. We listened as we shook them, smelled them, even rotated them at different speeds to hear the sounds at different angles. In the end, I hypothesized correctly for 3 of the 7 boxes.

Our afternoons are spent working together on our writing assignment for the week. This week’s writing assignment is our Methods section of our paper. Writing…

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Learning About Science, Learning from Each Other

Today Team Zaaga’igan participated in a discussion about what science is and what science isn’t. It was a great discussion to help us interns dispel some preconceptions about science that we had coming into this internship. For example, science is: limited to the natural world, biased and tentative. Science is not: based on proof or authority, fair or rigid. These were some of the discussions today that the interns discussed and debated while our on-site mentor, Christa Drake, informed us about these common misconceptions.


(Photo Caption: Team Zaaga’igan learning about science misconceptions from mentor, Christa Drake)

In the afternoon, we had our weekly conference call with the other teams in the SLAWR REU. It’s always interesting to hear the different research approaches to studying land and water resources. We will be meeting up with some of them in Minneapolis in the next week on our trip to the big city to work in their lab.

Later in the day we were able to spend some time working on our background sections of our papers. This is where we get to write about the historical aspects of our sites, along with the cultural and environmental aspects. For me, this excites me because I love to learn about the history of places (especially tribal histories) and look at all of the variables of a particular issue. For my team, studying Chi Bingwi, we are looking at mining, sulfates and wild rice decline on tribal ceded territory. Considering we spent most of our week in the lab, this was a nice break from absorbing so much technical information.


(Photo Caption: Interns Ida Clarke and Emilia Caylor help each other on background information)