Experiential Learning: Testing the Waters with UBERG
One of the best ways to discover what you have an affinity for is to get your feet wet and try something new. Students involved in the Undergraduate Bishop’s Earth Research Group (UBERG) take this quite literally. UBERG was launched with the goal of providing deep and meaningful research experience in applied geospatial subjects for undergraduate students. One of their latest projects, codenamed UBERGaiter, is an aquatic drone built to map and identify the prevalence of invasive aquatic plant species in lakes. Under the supervision of Professor Bruno Courtemanche, the group of 12 students from various fields including geography, computer science, and ecology invested more than 500 hours to build the drone from scratch. The best part of the project so far? For Courtemanche, “It’s really been seeing how the students get involved with the project. […] especially since it’s something linked to their field, they are simultaneously developing all kinds of skills that they wouldn’t necessarily have seen in class.” For Simon Lizotte, an Environmental Science student who has gotten involved with the project over the summer, the best part has been “being able to try out new things in a more hands on manner. A lot of what we learn in school is the theory behind it and this is a lot more [focused on] the practical aspect, the stuff we can actually see with our own [eyes] as it gets built over time.” The UBERGaiter is but one of a handful of projects the group is working on, including submarine pollen monitoring by flux cytometry and three-dimensional mapping of the Saint-Léonard cavern in Montreal.
The UBERGaiter project not only highlights the diversity of experiential learning opportunities at Bishop’s, but how faculty and students get involved with their community. Information collected by the drone will help better equip local environment protection groups such as RAPPEL with the knowledge they need to develop action plans for vulnerable aquatic ecosystems.
To get involved or for more information, visit the UBERG website at uberg.ca.