A rundown of 2023 Women in Science and Sailing Camp

By Marisa Immordino
September 03, 2023

As one of the Watershed Education Graduate Assistants for Lake Champlain Sea Grant’s Watershed Alliance, one of the most exciting projects I worked on this summer was planning the third iteration of our Women in Science and Sailing Camp in partnership with the Community Sailing Center. From August 7‑11, our Watershed Alliance staff and several amazing faculty members and researchers based in the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Lab delivered five days of unique science experiences for our campers. Here are a few highlights from the week:

Monday, August 7

As Monday was themed around women in science, the campers participated in a scavenger hunt! Each pair was given a list of 5 random objects to find scattered around the lab. Upon finding their items the campers then needed to figure out what all their items had in common. Through discussion with other pairs, they determined that these 20 objects were all created and discovered by female-identifying scientists and inventors! Some of the items on their lists included windshield wipers, an aquarium, a dishwasher, a signal flare, and even, the recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Rachel demonstrating how to use a Plankton Tow with the campers

Tuesday, August 8

To connect with our watershed science focus of the day, we played a ProjectWET activity called Macroinvertebrate Mayhem. Campers were assigned a specific type of benthic macroinvertebrate and tasked with getting to the other side of the room without being tagged by the pollutant. Certain macroinvertebrates, like the Mayfly and Stonefly, were also given a disadvantage. Instead of just running from the tagger, they needed to hop on one foot or spin in circles to get to the other side. We found that macroinvertebrates like Midges and Rat-Tailed Maggots who ran without a disadvantage were more likely to avoid being tagged, unlike those who needed to hop or spin.

Wednesday, August 9

On Wednesday, we had the chance to hear from several lab researchers (Maria and Rachel) during a career panel and see some of their research in action! On the waterfront, Maria shared one of her floating mesocosm research projects. Rachel also showed the campers some of her algae experiments back in the lab. We also learned from one of the lab’s postdoctoral researchers, Bianca, about her research project on lakemounts and productivity.

Thursday, August 10 Two campers taking a secchi depth measurement on the dock

On Thursday, Rachel presented on the different types of Phytoplankton that could be found in lakes. We then headed outside to collect plankton samples using a Plankton Tow in the boat slip. These samples were then brought back into the lab to look at under microscopes. We ended our day with an exciting game of Phytoplankton Bingo.

Friday, August 11

On Friday, campers had the opportunity to be both scientific and creative! In the morning, campers learned about secchi disks—tools used to measure water clarity—and took their own secchi depth measurements in Lake Champlain. In the afternoon, they played The Great Plankton Race. Each camper designed a plankton with popsicle sticks, pool noodle pieces and other crafting materials for the purpose of seeing whose plankton could float for the longest.


And that’s about it for camp! Special thanks to the Community Sailing Center, the Watershed Alliance team, and all our Rubenstein Lab collaborators and guest speakers for making this week a success!