Cameron Spencer’s 7th grade science class at West Liberty Salem Middle School completed water quality tests as part of their Water, Air & Space unit. The class discussed the concepts of non-point source pollution, water quality issues, and basic field stream monitoring, as well as algal blooms in Ohio. These topics correlate to state standards in Life Science (Cycles of Matter and Flow of Energy) and Earth and Space Science (Hydrologic Cycle).
GrowNextGen.org has several useful resources connected to water quality. This digital case study from H2KNow invites you to investigate a water quality issue in Lake Erie. Students will gather information about the problem, consider potential contributors and environmental factors, review data and research happening in the field, and engage in discussions and activities related to effective solutions that will improve the water quality of Lake Erie. These videos show what farmers are doing to lessen their impact on water quality.
Spencer’s students learned about water quality issues that have real-world applications. They conducted chemical tests and evaluated the health and water quality of the land lab stream. Each student was assigned one chemical test to perform outside in the land lab, acting as the expert. After completing the test, they shared their knowledge with the group.
Spencer said, “Most students love this mini-unit for a variety of reasons. Since we live in a farming community, the concepts are very real and relatable to most of my students. This unit also allows real-life practical applications to real-world experiences. Additionally, the lab is hand-on. Students get to actually do the tests and see results. Going outside to the land lab is always fun.”
Spencer was a participant in the 2019 Tech in Ag workshop sponsored by EducationProjects.org, the Ohio State University, and USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture and held at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory. He said, “I learned a lot about farming best practices at the workshop, with basic concepts that I can apply in my classroom. I think most of my students appreciate the fact that I am eager to talk about farming in the classroom.”