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Aug. 01, 2011

Changing Currents Turns Students into Environmental Scientists

by Guest Blogger

Click to enlarge images
Hip waders keep citizen scientists dry while sampling streams.

Hip waders keep citizen scientists dry while sampling streams. (Image: EcoSpark)

This post by guest blogger Elizabeth Walter was originally posted on ScienceForCitizens.net, a website that connects regular people to real science they can do.

Changing Currents, a project originating in Toronto, Canada, familiarizes middle- and high-school students with local watersheds and teaches them how to conduct water quality analyses.

This is a great way for students to become environmental scientists for a day! After heading out to a local stream and donning hip waders, students collect water samples and analyze their data. Through this program, students get out in nature for a while and learn about the importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Urban watersheds can be adversely affected by many problems, including urban run-off and storm water, agriculture, and pesticide use. It is imperative to keep watersheds clean, not only for us humans (who depend on natural sources for our drinking water!) but also for the animals and plants in the larger ecosystems that these waterways support.

In addition to learning a bit about science and nature, students also contribute their data to a larger study of Toronto-area watersheds and are encouraged to take action if they find problems in their local streams and rivers. Want to see what it’s like? Check out their fun video!

The Changing Currents group created a thorough, well-organized field manual for teachers to help organize scholarly stream outings. Take a look inside and learn how to conduct a survey and identify aquatic critters!

To get involved, first register with the group and then attend a training session or host a Student Stream Assessment Workshop. Students can learn more about water quality and biomonitoring in the Student Area of the website.

We think you’d look great in hip waders, so take a look and get out there!

About Guest Blogger

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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