June 21, 2012 — One of the big projects that students do at Durham Academy is their 8th grade Independent Science Project. There are often a lot of interesting and fun topics, such as whether people do better on tests after exercise, if artificial sweeteners taste different than natural sugars in lemonade, and what ingredients make chocolate chip cookie taste best. I was given the opportunity to add something truly unique to our school-wide presentation of research projects this year though. For my project, I tested and compared the activity rates of the ring-tailed lemur and the red-ruffed lemur. After contacting Dr. Ehmke and talking to her about what I wanted to research, she invited me to the Duke Lemur Center and I conducted all of my research there. She taught me the health and security procedures all staff do to protect the animals at the DLC, and she gave me access to two pairs of lemurs to study. I recorded the activity rate of the lemurs I was studying by using a scan-time observation method which Dr. Ehmke taught me.

After a week of daily research at the DLC, I looked at my data, drew my conclusions, wrote my report, and made my display board. I presented my research to my grade, and our projects were put on display for our whole school. Everyone was really interested in my work and the animals at the DLC, particularly all of the cute pictures of the lemurs I took while at the DLC. Finally, after everyone presented their projects, my science teacher announced the top three best projects in our grade, and mine was number one! It was a lot of fun to conduct my research at the Duke Lemur Center with the help of Dr. Ehmke. I learned a lot, and I am so glad that I had such a wonderful opportunity!-Gala T.