On a recent, brisk, sunny morning, hundreds of high school students grabbed their environmental sampling equipment and headed to local streams in the Toledo area. Knee deep in water wearing chest waders and boots, teenagers received firsthand experience testing the quality of Toledo’s aquatic ecosystems.
“I have been testing water ecosystems since I was 10 participating with the [Toledo] Zoo team and Girl Scouts,” said Natalie Thomsen, another Toledo Early College High School freshman. “It is great to finally do this in school because I love that with just one simple water test, we can educate ourselves on what is or is not harmful in the water. With this information, we can learn to help improve the environment.”
They were participating in Student Watershed Watch, which is a Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments program to educate students about local stream ecosystems. Students have the chance to test streams for temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH levels and many other properties to discover the overall quality of the water.The UT Lake Erie Center sponsors seven area high schools through a National Science Foundation GK-12 grant to take part in Student Watershed Watch. With the grant, UT supplies the necessary water sampling tools to the high school science teachers and also provides UT graduate students to aid the classes.
In addition to Toledo Early College High School, the schools participating in the UT-sponsored portion of the 21st Annual Student Watershed Watch are Bowsher High School, Central Catholic High School, Clay High School, Northview High School, Ottawa Hills High School and Start High School.
“This is a great opportunity for students to practice water-quality testing and a chance to expose them to University faculty and staff to discuss science and education,” said Dr. Cyndee Gruden, UT associate professor of civil engineering.
“From a University standpoint, the Student Watershed Watch program is an excellent way to engage the community and communicate environmental knowledge to students, parents and teachers.”
Students will have a chance to share their results at the Student Watershed Watch Summit Tuesday, Nov. 16, at the University when participating schools release and compare their findings.
For more information on the Student Watershed Watch program, click here.