A CIESE Collaborative Project

# Spring 1999 Student Final Reports

All classes participating in this project have been asked to submit a final report to the project Discussion Area. In this report, students share what they have learned from doing the project. Read on to see the results of the students' hard work!
Primary Purpose: To look for relationships and trends among the data collected by all project participants.

Herbert A. Ammons Middle School
Miami, Florida
Miami River

River Glen Junior High
Boise, Idaho
Farmer's Union Stream
The name and the location of the stream that we tested is Farmer's Union Stream, near Riverglen Jr. high, in Boise. The latitude and the longitude of the water test site is 43 degrees 40' 46"W latitude, and 116 degrees 40'52"N longitude. The date of the water sampling was 3-23-00 at 8:00am-12:00pm. The weather conditions of that day were partly cloudy; it was the day after a rain storm {Humidity high was 92%, early in the morning}. The condition of the stream was slighty muddy and there were not many plants in the water. However, we live in a temperate region and many of the plants have not started to grow back after winter. The stream was a light brown color and did not have an odor to it. We have observed mallard ducks and muskrats using the stream.

Conclusions:
My hypothosis for the WQI was correct because we redid the test and it came out good! We even tested the macroinvertebrates in the water. It determined if the water held the type of bugs that could stay in polluted water, in betweens, and if there are bugs that can live in only non-polluted water. We got them from all categories, which is good water.

We got the WQI by all our test averages, and the class' averages. Then we would go to the SITE books and look at graphs to determine the Q-value. After we got that, we could multiply the Q-value by the Weighting Factor. We would then have to add all the numbers together and then we would have a WQI!!!

Three things that I have learned to do during water quality testing is a lot of math!!! Also I have gotten to see some things that I have never seen before, like some microinvertebrats. I also learned how to test pH and total solids.

I don't really think that I would do anything different, except that I would bring a coat out on the cold days!!!

Sabine River
Greetings from the tall pines of East Texas. We attend Gladewater High School. Gladewater is a small town in East Texas located about 120 miles east of Dallas, Texas, or to be more specific 32 degrees: 32 min:53 seconds north latitude, 94 degrees: 57 min: 49 seconds west longitude. Gladewater is a main street town and it is also known as the Antique Capitol of East Texas. There are about two dozen antique stores located on our main street. In grades 9-12 there are about 600 students. Although, we only have three people in our Environmental Science class, we have been studying water quality and purification. Our town is located on the Sabine River about 80 miles from the origin, which is a water shed for Toledo Bend Reservoir. It also supplies much of East Texas with water. The origin is 100 miles east of Dallas, Texas.

Conclusions:
IN THE SABINE RIVER THERE IS NEGATIVE AMOUNTS OF NITROGEN AND A HIGH COLIFORM COUNT. THE RIVER HAS SEVERAL DIFFERENT SOURCES OF POLLUTION THAT CONTRIBUTE TO ITS LOW WATER QUALIY. ONE OF THESE SOURCES IS CATTLE RUN-OFF. ANOTHER SOURCE THAT CONTRIBUTES TO IT IS THAT THE TOWN OF GLADEWATER USED TO BE HAVE SEVERAL OIL FEILDS WHICH HAVE SINCE BEEN CLOSED DOWN AND ABANDONED. ALSO PEOPLE CONTRIBUTE TO THIS PROBLEM BY THROWING THEIR GARBAGE IN IT.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THIS PROJECT.

WE LEARNED THAT OUR THEORY OF RUN OFF FROM CATTLE IS CORRECT BECAUSE THE WATER TESTED POSITIVE FOR COLIFORM. WE HAVE ALSO ACQUIRED A BETTER KNOWLEDGE OF DECTECTING AND ELIMINATING SOME OF THE SOURCES OF POLLUTION. ONE WAY IN WHICH THE POLLUTION WOULD BE REDUCED IS BY A CLEAN UP PROJECT TO CLEAN UP THE STUFF THAT PEOPLE HAVE LEFT THERE.

GLADEWATER HIGH SCHOOL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CLASS

Michigan School for the Deaf
Flint, Michigan
Swartz Creek
Our school, Michigan School for the Deaf, planned to do the water quality testing this week. However, the cold weather and snow just won't leave us alone. We haven't decided if we want to "tough it out" or postpone for a few days.

First, we can tell you a few things about our school. There are just over 100 deaf students that attend our school (K-12). We have a residential program which means that students can stay in the dorm on campus if their parents live far away. We also have a day program, which means kids from the Flint area can take the bus to and from school each day. There are six students in our high school science class that are learning about water quality.

We have decided to sample the river behind our school, Swartz Creek. This is located in the south central area of the Flint watershed. We will be conducting the following tests: dissolved oxygen, temperature, ph, phosphate, nitrate, turbidity, BOD.

According to the EPA, our watershed has become more serious in the past 10 years. We learned that a nearby creek, Thread Creek, has highly impaired water, and we became curious how that river became contaminated. Since 79% of the land in the Flint area is used for crops, we thought agricultural runoff could have been the source of contamination. However, we learned through the Flint river watershed coalition that a sewage spill had occured in Thread Creek last year. They are now interested in our fecal coliform test and want us to share the results. It will be interesting to see if last year's sewage spill in Thread Creek had an impact on our river.

Conclusions:
My name is Sasha Smith. I am in 10th grade and 17 years old. We tested our river and found out that it is bad. It had fecal coliform. Millions of fecal coliforms (1300/100ml),but the other tests were fine. (ph, oxygen, nitrate, phosphate) We are planning to visit the water plant soon and learn more about water. Sasha

Hello Again from Michigan School for the Deaf!

We just finished our water quality testing about a week ago. Our hypothesis was correct. We learned that the river behind our school is contaminated with sewage. Last year there was a sewage spill in a nearby Flint river. We weren't sure how much this affected our river until we analyzed the results. However, all other water quality tests had high q-values (between 85-100).

Our class is currently making a video tape about water quality testing. We hope to put the videotape on reserve in the Library for upcoming years to learn from our experiences and research.

Michigan School for the Deaf Ms. Wolbers, Tiff, AJ, Philip, Joe, Melissa

Magnarp's School
Vejbystrand, Sweden
Brook near school
Hello from Magnarps school, Vejbystrand, Sweden.

We are 32 pupils in grade 7 from Magnarps school in Sweden. We are divided into two classes, but we work a lot together in different subjects. We have known each other since the first grade, and we are now 13-14 years old.

Around 400 pupils go to our school, from kindergarten to grade 9. Our schoolday in class 7 is from 8.20 am to 3.10 pm and we have about five lessons each day. We began studying English in grade 3 and last year, in grade 6, many of us started learning German or French. Our school is a one-floor building made of red bricks and it was built in 1996. Most pupils live in villas or on farms.

Vejbystrand is situated in the south part of Sweden called Skåne, at 56° 20 N, 12° 40 E. The school is very close to the sea and we have a lot of farms and fields here. Vejbystrand is a village of about 2000 people and it belongs to the community of Ängelholm. The population of the whole community is around 37000. In the summer many tourists visit Vejbystrand and Ängelholm, because of the nice beaches here. You can go bathing, sailing, surfing and fishing. We have a great variety of different landscapes in our surroundings coast, plain, the Bjäre and Kullaberg peninsulas and the Hallandsås ridge. A great many artist and craftsmen live and work in this part of Skåne, and you can visit them easily and for example buy pots made of clay. In the summer we have a nice climate, 20-30 °C, and in the winter it can be 10 °C. We usually have some snow in the winter, but not that much in this part of Sweden.

We are going to test the quality of the water in a small brook close to the school. This brook has been essential to our schoolwork many times before, we have built bridges across it, for example. The water in the brook is clear, but the bottom is dirty. We believe that the water is a bit polluted, because the farmers who live close to the brook are using some biocide. There are no industries in the surroundings so there wont be that kind of pollution problems. We dont think that well find very much organisms in the water or around this very small stream, just frogs, insects and some birds. Many trees and bushes grow on each side of the stream. The ground around the stream is like a swamp and it is not very solid. The brook eventually flows into a bay called Skälderviken.

Conclusions:
We, the pupils in Magnarp's school in Sweden, have tested the water in a brook close to our school. The water was much better than we had expected, and we know now that we can drink the water without any problems.

The pH and the oxygen level of the water was excellent, but the nitrate concentration was too high, as we had expected. We found a lot of animals and plants around the brook. We didn't find any fish, but a lot of frogs and various insects.

We liked the project very much and it was funny and very interesting to work like this. We have learnt a lot of english, and also a lot of analytic chemistry while measuring the levels of pH, oxygen, nitrates and prosphates. We thin the project idea is very good and we would very much like to participate in the global water sampling project next year too.

Classes 7 A and 7 B, Magnarp's school, Sweden

Per Werger, Science teacher Camilla Duhr, English teacher

First of all I would like to say I'm sorry for not keeping updated with this project. But, here goes anyways, at Silverado High School we have a very unique class called Global Lab which is designed, in a nutshell, to establish enviornmental awareness through community sponsors, community partnerships and global networks. We do work with the EPA, Desert Research Institute, and Montgomery Watson Engineering just to name a few. One of the areas of study is water quality. In the classroom we have eight aquariums that we actively monitor and we test water from many surrounding places including two local washes, Lake Mead, our current public water source, Mono Lake, and various springs in Red Rock Canyon. For this project we submitted data from Lake Mead.

Here are two other students opinions on the project: Our group came across the water sampling project late in the year. Currently we are building a stream bed aquarium to study tadpoles and flatworms from a local wash. Next year we hope toget started sooner and get more of our class involved, By doing this we can submit more than one series of results, and possibly include more of our sites. Laura Linton Our coliform project is slowly coming up on its feet. We did do a qaulitative test for coliform on a sample from the mouth of the Las Vegas Wash at Lake Mead. The reason for this spot is because the sewage treatment plant runoff empties into the wash. We did find traces of coliform, but hopefully by the end of this school year we will have our quantitative tests functioning proprely so we can give more thorough results. Hanah Richardson Additionally, we are currently writing a major grant that will involve National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Southern Nevada Water Authority and our school district (Clark County Schools, NV) that will result in the creation of a permanent water sampling station located in Lake Mead that will transmit data on a real time basis to our classroom. Silverado students will manage a "water analysis" project for other schools within our school district. Our focus is on water quality and we are elated to be involved in this global sampling project. (D.M. Curry, Teacher)

Rich South High School
Richton Park, Illinois
Lagoon on School Grounds
Over the course of the last three months, Rich South High School, located in Richton Park, Illinois, has tested the water in their lagoon located at the West end of their campus for pollutants. The students also compared the levels of certain tests with the standards quality water. Surprisingly to Rich South students, the lagoon is a safe environment for all inhabitants of the lagoon.

Upon viewing the results compiled from this high school questions have arose about the level of Dissolved Oxygen. Since March 23, 2000, Rich South has tested the lagoon for dissolved oxygen, and the results for this test have varied from 5 ppm. to 60 ppm. This lagoon is a small lagoon with little wildlife, so much of the dissolved oxygen is not used on a day by day basis. The levels were high on some days due to the level of rain received in previous days and the amount of wind that was rolling across the lagoon on that day. This lagoon does support wildlife including numerous amounts of fish and geese, ducks, and even a white egret. The level of dissolved oxygen is high for this amount of water and wildlife, but the reproduction and growth of fish within this pond should increase heavily because of this.

The levels of carbon dioxide in this pond are adequate to maintain a heavy level of plant life. Trees and shrubs surround the lagoon and their roots extend into the lagoon itself. There is also an amount of moss and algae on the banks of the lagoon. The levels of carbon dioxide ranged from 12 ppm to 2 ppm depending upon the location taken in the lagoon. Samples that were taken from deeper in the water recorded a higher level of dissolved carbon dioxide. At these deeper levels, the sunlight does not reach the bottom of the lagoon as well, so there are fewer plants located in these areas, and the level of dissolved oxygen is higher.  These same areas have a lower level of dissolve oxygen as well.

The pH for the lagoon ranged from 5.5 to 9.5. The standard range for fresh water is from 5.0 to 8.5. The lagoon at certain points was slightly more basic than other areas. One of these areas was at the bottom of the lagoon. This same area had lower levels of dissolved carbon dioxide and dissolved oxygen. The levels of dissolved carbon dioxide effect the pH level and in theory, the level should show a weak acidic level. The levels recorded were moderately basic. When samples were taken from the bottom, there were often amount of soil and other substances from the bottom of the lagoon present in this sample. The soil at the bottom of the lagoon most likely has a basic level to be able to neutralize the effects of rainwater. Another area of the lagoon that varied in levels of pH was the South end. This end was much shallower than the North end and there was more of a rock bed present in this area. Shallow areas contain less carbon dioxide so having a more basic pH is safe.

Nitrate levels in the lagoon are safe. Large levels of nitrate could cause methemoglobinemia and are a prime indicator that fertilizers, sewage, industrial and packing house wastes, and drainage from livestock. The levels of pH were always less than 0.2 ppm. This level shows that the lagoon is free of fertilizer run-off. The level of nitrate also promotes growth in vegetation in the lagoon. The level of nitrate might suggest why vegetation within the lagoon itself is low except for the level during algae session.

The level of phosphate in the lagoon was always less than 0.2 ppm. This level is the ideal level for growth in plant vegetation. Levels of phosphate should never be read over 0.1 ppm. The test that was perform did give an testing level lower than 0.2 ppm. and still higher than 0.0 ppm. Higher levels of phosphates can cause a process called eutrophication. This process creates a creates a favorable environment for an increase in algae. An increase in algae can kill of some of the species of fish located within the lagoon because decomposition of dense algae uses an increased level of dissolved oxygen. The lagoon has never has a high amount of algae present, even in the fall. This shows that the levels of nitrates and phosphates are high enough to support vegetation, but low enough to keep down the amount of algae within the lagoon.

When working with students on a project, there is always room for calculated errors. Many errors have most likely occurred during this project that have tainted our results. The level of dissolved oxygen is too high even for a little lagoon with lower levels of wildlife. It is quite possible that students working on that test have read the titration tube wrong for a reading. Other tests may not be as accurate because of the weather and the students inability to understand the importance of accurate results. Each time that the lagoon was tested it was attempted to get new students to wade out into the water. The exact locations of each measurement from day to day were taken at the same locations. The locations for the deep measurement were also varied from day to day.

This project has given the Chemistry students at Rich South a first hand look into the world of Environmental Chemistry. This is not, by any means, a new profession for chemists, but it is a new area of study offered by many colleges and universities. By offering students a chance in high school to discover the exciting world of environmental chemistry, students are able to make better decisions about the major in which they would like to study. Students were able to see real life applications for chemistry through this project and they were also able to interact with students from around the world.

Michelle Hallock Rich South H.S. Junior