Prairie Grove Middle School EAST Participates in World Water Monitoring Day


Prairie Grove Middle School EAST Participates in World Water Monitoring Day
11/9/2009 3:03:18 PM

Eighteen PGMS EAST students ventured out in four rafts on Lake Lincoln this past Saturday with their GPS units, cameras, and water collection bins on board in order to help out the Illinois River Watershed Partnership collect water samples for World Water Monitoring Day.

The weather could not have been more perfect for a Saturday stroll around Lake Lincoln as eighteen members of the PGMS EAST program ventured out to collect water samples for the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. After arriving by school bus to their desired location, students ate donuts and drank orange juice as Dr. Delia Haak, program director of the IRWP, talked to the student group about the water collection process that they would be conducting at the Lake site. Once students were reminded of their responsibilities, and they had a few quick rowing "how to tips", students were placed into one of four rafts and off they went to various areas of the lake to collect their water samples. Once at their desired location on the water, students held their collection bin under the water for 30 seconds, then they quickly replaced their lid as to not spill their collected sample while they rowed back to shore. Once their sample was collected, students immediately sited their location using their classroom GPS unit and they took the water temperature of their sample by using the thermometer strip that was adhered to the outside of the collection bin. Rowing back to shore was a struggle for some as they tried to go against the wind, but this made for some classic pictures that made the day memorable for all.

Once back to shore, students recorded the water temperature of their collected sample on the data sheets provided and then they were off to test the turbidity of their collected sample. Turbidity is the measure of the relative clarity of their collected water sample and it measures soil erosion, urban runoff, algal blooms, and bottom sediment disturbances caused by boat traffic on the water. In order to measure the turbidity of their collected samples, students simply had to open up their collection bin and look through the water at the Secchi disk that was stuck to the bottom of their bin. Students had to gauge the color of their Secchi disk according to the three colors on the Turbidity chart and they had to mark which color that their disk most closely resembled.

After recording the Turbidity of their collected sample, students moved to the next stage of the process where they tested the dissolved oxygen of their sample. Aquatic plants and animals need oxygen to survive and pollution, large amounts of bacteria and rotting plants can cause saturation levels of dissolved oxygen to decrease. By taking the dissolved oxygen levels from various locations on the lake, we can help the watershed determine the overall oxygen health of our water supply so that it is healthier for the ecosystems that live in it. In order to conduct the dissolved oxygen tests, students had to funnel a small portion of their collected water sample into a long vile. Once the sample had been placed into the vile, students dropped two dissolved oxygen tablets into their vile, replaced the lid, and shook their sample for four minutes or until each tablet had completely dissolved. The dissolved tablets mixed with the water sample and forced it to change a various shade of pink. Students had to match their colored water sample to one of three different colors on a dissolved oxygen chart and record it on the data sheet provided. After recording their data, students placed their dissolved oxygen water sample into a different bucket so that the chemicals from the test would not be placed back into Lake Lincoln.




The final water test of the day was a pH test conducted by the students as they measured the acidic and basic quality of the water. Aquatic animals adapt to the pH of the water that they live in and any sudden changes in pH can cause plants and animals to die, to stop reproducing, or to shift to another area of the lake to get away from the increased pH levels. Acid rain, wastewater discharges, and drainage from mines can affect the pH levels of bodies of water and monitoring these levels can help to preserve and potentially save the aquatic life in the lake. The students conducted their pH tests on their samples by placing a small amount of collected water into another glass vile. Once in the vile, students placed a pH tablet into their sample, replaced their lid, and shook their sample until their pH tablet dissolved. Once dissolved, the water turned a certain color and the students matched the color of their water sample to the nine colors represented on the pH color chart. After finding the color that most resembled their sample color, students recorded their findings on the data chart provided.




All in all, fifteen water samples were collected by the PGMS EAST students from various areas of Lake Lincoln and all of their temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and pH test results were entered onto the World Water Monitoring Day website by members of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. Student groups and organizations from around the world also conducted water sample testing and all of their results are also documented on the WWMD website located at PGMS EAST students had a blast on the water collecting their samples and they learned a lot of important tips and tricks on how to keep their portion of their watershed clean. Students commented that they enjoyed the "science lab" portion of the data collection process and that they hoped that their continued findings will help monitor the overall status of Lake Lincoln for years to come.



















































































































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