Our first field experience consisted of travelling to a place called Greenacres, and indeed it was green. The foundation had many different structures, cattle and gardens spread out over an impressively large area. The small offshoot that we visited consisted of an old church, a garden, several fields, and the bees. A map of the area can be found at the bottom of the page. It was a rather cold day, and our guide explained to us that to warm themselves up, bees vibrate their wings. This of course takes effort, and they expend more energy then usual. He said we would not see as many bees as we might have on a warmer day. This news was relatively disappointing, but I remained hopeful some persistent bees would come say hello to our group.
Our guide then took us on a small tour, encouraging us to look for pollinators as we walked. The outdoors still smelled of rain thanks to the night before, and the ground squelched a bit as we walked. The birds chirped overhead, and the trees rustled in a slight wind. It was a beautiful day, despite the temperature. You can see in the slideshow below how many types of insects we found on our walk. The bees did not disappoint! Members of our group saw honey bees, sweat bees, wasps, and bumble bees. I learned that many insects other than bees and butterflies are responsible for the pollination of our plants. Beetles, moths, and even flies help!
We were then shown the bee boxes. Although it wasn't safe to get too close, I could still hear the sound of many tiny wings humming their busy tune. Some bees clung to the underneath of the boxes, their front door. Some flew around and I even watched one land briefly in my classmate's hair. After we had finished admiring the bees, we went inside and watched as several frames of honeycomb were brought out. Some were taken from a fridge and still had honey inside. I learned that bees put wax over the comb to store the honey for later. Later being during the winter, when it is too cold to leave the hive. There were also several neat artifacts on display, such as the drum used to spin all the honey out of the frame, and remnants of a hive that was built inside a tree.
Sadly, I also learned that the Greenacres' bees were not doing well. This was a shock to me, the bees had so much room and so much food to choose from. What could be causing them to decline? The answer is unknown, and proves just how much of a wicked problem CCD really is. On a more positive note, I really enjoyed being able to interact with the bees and their environment, and I am excited to keep delving into the world of honey making and beekeeping.
Our second field trip was actually on the University of Cincinnati's main campus. The Innovation Hub was a beautiful glass building, and seemed to be fairly new. At least, that is what I gathered from the ladders and workers clustered around the outside of the building. I would later learn that we were being given a sort of "sneak peek", as the building had not officially opened to the public yet. We started our experience with Craig Vogel, one of the founders of the Livewell Collaborative- a business aimed at helping companies use creativity and ingenuity to solve problems.
Mr. Vogel showed us a short video narrated by a lively female voice who introduced us to the business. He then explained that different words are used when pitching ideas to different companies. For example, when talking to a hospital the word "patient" should be used. But for a marketing company, the word "client" should be used instead. I learned that there was a lot more psychology and sociology involved with innovative problem solving than I once thought. How could I apply this knowledge to the problem of CCD?
We were then shown several examples of how some of the teams at Livewell Collaboration have displayed their ideas and prototypes. Some involved electronic devices, others, a book. My favorite was an entire room dedicated to analyzing potential customers and the best way to help them get what they need. The displays were life size and had charts and visuals to convey information. Some of them even had audio, with headphones hanging off to the side, ready for use. Most of the displays were made right there in the building, which leads me to the next part of the tour.
After thanking Mr. Vogel, we excitedly tromped downstairs for a tour of the workshop. An excited woman led us through the many different tools that would soon be available for students to use. There were laser printers, paper printers, 3D printers, computers where 3D models could be constructed or modified, and lots of work spaces. We were able to hold some creations from people who worked there, one of which being a bust of a young man's head. The plastic was slightly cool to the touch, and had a rough texture. I learned about some of the different types of plastic that were available to use. My favorite was a translucent blue, and held similarities to plastics used on cars.
We then were lead to another room containing many large mechanical machines. The one that I was closest to was used to cut metal, and utilized pressurized water to achieve very precise details. Some other machines included a variety of saws, some hand tools, power tools, and some welding machines that were still being set up. Small clinking sounds could be heard as our guide talked about how to use the space being provided. I learned that to use the tools, all you have to do is attend an orientation and possibly another workshop for some of the more advanced items. As a student I am very excited that this building is opening within the semester. One of the things discussed in class was the importance of prototyping one's work so as to find potential flaws. I think the Innovation Hub is going to be a great place to do that for a lot of students, and I plan on using it as I work on the "Ideal Bee" project.