Friday, February 11, 2005

Ah, rain ...

We've had yet more rain here in Southern California these past two days, which was great (I love rain) except that I had a field lab scheduled. The idea of the lab was to have students test hypotheses relating to microclimate variation across campus. Yesterday's night lab got drizzled on while they were working, but everyone stuck it out. This morning it stopped raining just as the students in my first lab section of the day finished designing their experiments, so I sent the groups out with the instruction to come back if it started raining.

Of course, 20 minutes after the students left it started pouring, so I soon had a bunch of very wet students returning to the lab (though one group stuck it out and finished collecting all their data). I apologized profusely, and let the students out early as a reward for their soggy work. It was still raining for my afternoon lab, so after the students in that lab designed their experiments I gave them a choice: they could either do the lab during the rain, or wait and do it next week. This seemed to work quite well, as some groups shot out the door for the parking lot, ecstatic at getting out early, while other groups were excited by comparing a rainy to a non-rainy day, so they slogged out and got some data which they will compare to data they get next week.

So, despite the best attempts of the weather to foil my lab plans, all worked out well. In fact, the students were generally surprised by the amount of variation in climate variables (e.g. air temperature, soil moisture) that they were able to observe even though it was cloudy and raining.

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