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Fifth graders become citizen scientists

Watershed cleanup
Posted On: Friday, October 11, 2019

Students collecting samplesThe district’s 88 fifth graders waded into the Ottawa River last week to conduct science experiments and do their part to keep the waterway clean. The students, accompanied by parent volunteers and teachers, worked the river at a location behind Epworth United Methodist Church on Central Avenue. Two TV stations were present to film the activities.

The science-and-cleanup event is organized annually by the Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments. Every October for 30 years, the nonprofit group has organized hundreds of students to collect data and conduct clean-up efforts as part of “Student Watershed Watch.” This year’s activities set all-time records for the number of students participating and included teachers who received advanced training by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Leading the OH group again was teacher Lianne Genzman, accompanied by her fifth-grade teaching colleagues: Chris Dever, Julie Farkas, and Angela Parker.

The efforts by Ottawa Hills students were aided by equipment purchased last year through a grant from the Ottawa Hills Schools Foundation. Mrs. Genzman, who submitted the grant, purchased native plants, test tubes, testing kits, other scientific equipment and seine nets (used for collecting crayfish, snails and clams.

The Ottawa River location by Epworth was just one of more than 20 testing sites. Students collected and tested water samples for the presence of phosphorus, E. coli, pH balance, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and more. They also collected macroinvertebrates (such as larvae of mayflies and dragonflies) as another indicator of water health.

Last year’s students conducted similar testing. Now, a second year of data is being added to the OH science database.

Students doing sampling“What’s most important is that students will be making connections between last year’s data and this year’s,” said Mrs. Genzman. “The hope is the data will show students how the ecosystem is changing over time, and what their individual and collective impact is on their local watershed.”

Collection and testing is the first part of the Student Watershed Watch. In the second, they meet at a Summit to present their findings. This year’s event is Friday,  Nov. 8, at The Toledo Zoo.

More info on the Student Watershed Watch





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