Learning Renewable Energy & Desert Ecology in Sunny Israel

Man it's hot out here. Jordan's Edom mountains in the back.

My second full day in Israel and already it feels like a week has passed. We’ve done so much in our short time here and the seven other strangers in the program are becoming more and more familiar.

Today didn’t begin with an intense hike (the sand dune climbing came later), but instead with a tour of Arava’s Renewable Energy Park in the Kibbutz. The Institute had some impressive and interesting projects including three different research projects for solar panels that Arava is acting as the field site, biogas digestors, cultivating a seed dating back to biblical times and finally the solar panel field.

My background’s not exactly in renewable energy but I found the projects to be very interesting. This was true especially the work with the biogas digestor, since the project has the power to impact small developing communities in a positive way by making energy possible for unnamed places off the grid (for example, there’s a project running in a village in Palestine), helping these places tap into their own resources, and working with willing communities towards a sustainable method. I love interdisciplinary environmental studies can be and how knowledge of the environment and being resourceful is literally translated into power.

Kibbutz Ketura's solar field


Biogas digestors, a project at Arava Institute

This afternoon I had flashbacks of my time in AP Biology class in high school. We had an introductory lecture on ecology, desert ecology, and biodiversity in the Negev. It’s funny how you can remember learning everything after the professor says it, but when he asks a question, you can’t really find the best answer—at least this was my situation in ecology and desert ecology. I can’t believe I’ve been out of high school for three years now, not only does that make me feel old and like time is whizzing by me, but also more understanding of the whole “use it or lose it” thought. I found myself surprised at how interested and engaged I was during the lengthy lecture but then remembered, “Oh I did enter Dickinson with the intention of being a sci (neuroscience) major for a reason.” The field still does hold a fascination for me, just not in the ways I expected back in the high school years.

In the afternoon in the scorching sun, our Ecology professor took us to sand dunes that were even closer to the Jordanian border today. And I need to add a sidenote/correction to yesterday’s post: there was a fence, but it was really small and not very intimidating looking. With partners we set 20 traps in the dunes with the hopes of catching some nocturnal wildlife (mainly beetles), and will return tomorrow morning at 5 am (gah!) to check if we caught anything. I enjoyed being outside doing hands-on work. Really a preferable way of learning and in my opinion a necessary way to stay connected with what you’re studying. Guess I just need to be able to find a career with this same style.

Traps that we dug to id critters in the region. Looks like a game of dune mini golf.

I also tried Israeli beer this evening. Tasty.

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4 responses to “Learning Renewable Energy & Desert Ecology in Sunny Israel

  1. Thank you for the daily updates. We feel like we are there with you! Love the photos! You look like you are glistening! Love, Mom and Dad

  2. don’t even remotely remember that AP Bio lecture.

  3. I am glistening because the sunscreen I had to buy here is a spray, very oily, and I didn’t rub it in—and because it’s hot as heck out here.

    AP Bio was such a long time ago, but I amazingly remember the topic because I was way into ecosystems out of the given topics. Ask me about chemistry in high school and that’s what I can’t remember!

  4. I will definitely make sure I bring sunscreen and insulated water bottles! Hope you caught some beetles!

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