Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Harrah Elementary Science Exploration Day

Harrah Elementary 5th graders visited the Central Wasthington University campus for a chance to see and experience different science careers.

Students were able to participate in a variety of science activities including Chemistry, Anthropology, Archeology, Herpetology, Botany, and each group even had a chance to visit CWU's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI).

Thanks to an army of volunteers who lead stations and chaperoned students the day was a big success!

Cowiche Canyon Watershed Monitoring

AC Davis Highschool biology students embarked on an exciting partnership with the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy (CCC).

Fellow, Melissa Reitz, in partnership with CCC, organized and designed a fieldtrip to the nearby Cowiche canyon. Students collected water quality data in Cowiche Creek and using thise data and water samples collected by Mel from several areas along Cowiche Creek students provided CCC with written reports of their findings.

During their field day, students collected data at 4 sites along a small section of Cowiche Creek.

WATERS fellow Jamie helped students sample for macroinvertebrates along a faster moving section of stream, known as a run. At first we didn't find anything and then....


Melissa helped students sample for macroinvertebrates along a riffle portion of the stream, where water is shallow and slower moving.

WATERS fellow Sara helped students conduct and interpret the phosphate test using a small streamside test kit.

WATERS fellow Tiffany helped students measure stream flow. Students also collected the water temperature at each sampling location.

We hope that this will become an opportunity for long standing partnership! For more information about the Cowiche Canyon Conservancy visit http://www.cowichecanyon.org.

Mathematics and Seasonal Water Monitoring

Selah Junior High math students, under the guidance of Tiffany and their teacher, Mrs. Quincy, are going to put their math skills to use analyzing data collected during a fieldtrip this fall. This hands-on collection of "numbers" allows students to understand how mathematics is applied in watershed research, similar to what Tiffany studies. Students collected data for several water quality parameters: temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen.

At this unique site, students were able to collect water samples from groundwater, stormwater, and ditch water. As an added bonus, students also searched for aquatic macroinvertebrates, tallying them for an assessment of water quality and sketched plants and insects they found at their field site. After the fieldtrip, students spent time organizing, analyzing, and interpreting data.

We headed out for the fall data collection trip on a hot, sunny September day. Students walked to the nearby fieldsite, where smaller groups rotated through the 4 stations.

Tiffany instructed students on groundwater and helped them safely collect their water samples for field testing.

2009-2010 WATERS fellow, Erin Dilworth, helped out with the groundwater station.

Jamie facilitated the Selah ditch station and also helped students explore the local flora.

Dale and Melissa helped students find and sort aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Students will repeat this fieldtrip throughout the academic year, collecting slightly different data for continued data analysis in class and interpreting any interesting seasonal comparisons.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WATERS Chemistry doin' water chemistry

AC Davis Chemistry students were able to participate in a half day fieldtrip in September to visit the Yakima Sewage Treatment Plant and the Yakima River. It was a great opportunity learn how Yakima's waste water gets "cleaned up" and a chance to measure Yakima River water quality parameters at right near the river's edge.

Yakima River Water Quality

Students were able to test water samples for several important water quality parameters including temperature, pH, conductivity, hardness, and dissolved oxygen. Each of these variables can provide a measurable way to assess river health, both for humans and other living organisms.

Water temperature is a very important water quality parameter, because it can affect both the water chemistry as well as the function and variety of aquatic life in the system.

Did you know that the term pH comes from the French "puissance d'Hydrogene" which means the strength of the hydrogen? Optimum pH for river water is near neutral and extremes in pH can have devastating effects on aquatic life!

Another water chemistry parameter you might not be familiar with is water hardness. Hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium ions dissolved in water. In the Yakima watershed water hardness is mainly due to deposits of calcite in the basalt formations and is reported as parts-per-million (ppm) Ca2+.

Conductivity is a measure of how well water can pass an electrical current, thus it is an indirect measurement of the many different dissolved solids in the water. In the Yakima watershed the concentrations of these dissolved solids are affected by the bedrock (containing calcite), agriculture (fertilizers), and road runoff. Decreases in conductivity can indicate the presence of organic pollutants.

Students were also able to make observations about the river, including water color, height, and riverbank vegetation.

Yakima Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour

Students also had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the Yakima Wastewater treatment plant.

Many thanks to all the fieldtrip helpers and treatment plant for hosting this great trip!