Updated! AP Science students test local water quality.

Southview’s science department continually connects students to the real world through thought-provoking experiments and critical discussions of principles. It’s even better, though, when the science department actually takes students into the real world to apply those lessons. That’s exactly what Abbey Cappel does with her eleven AP Environmental Science students.

These students traveled to the Ottawa River and Sawyer Lake at Camp Miakonda to test the water quality using various pieces of equipment.  They also evaluated the biodiversity of the stream and the type of stream bottom. By using this data, they were able to give the body of water an overall rating.

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Students used a kick seine to collect macroinvertebrates. The kick seining net technique is a simple way to essentially stir up the water to collect benthic macroinvertebrates, the little critters that are big enough to see without the aid of a microscope.  Be collecting and identifying these macroinvertebrates, students can gauge the overall quality of the stream because these inverts are bioindicators: they can survive at varying pollution tolerance levels.  So, if the students find a number of class 3 invertebrates, they know that the stream is polluted because class 3 inverts are very tolerant to pollution.

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The work here focuses the students on the important task of monitoring and improving water quality in our community.  If levels fall outside of a healthy range, the results can be shared back with the community and practices evaluated, perhaps limiting the use of fertilizers to help with increased phosphate and nitrate levels.  Students try to connect these activities to bigger local issues, like the algal bloom in Lake Erie and the Maumee River. Following this water quality activity, the class held a fish bowl styled debate over the algal bloom and its current state.

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Students determined that the overall rating of the Ottawa River was good based on the outcome of all of the tests.  Right now, students are taking this raw data and turning it into a presentation and display board that will be presented at the Student Watershed Watch Program Summit on November 3rd.

Update

At the Student Watershed Watch Program Summit on November 3rd, the Southview team took home two awards: Best Overall Presentation and Most Informative Display. Check out their video!

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