Science teacher Nick Ohrazda believes in learning by doing. So when he had his seventh-graders at Ray Middle School don waders and get into a local brook to literally test the water, they plunged right into their science lesson.
They collected biological, chemical and physical data at Crooked Brook in Baldwinsville as part of Project Watershed. It's a program of the Central New York Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America. The program provides an experienced leader, equipment and expertise to students studying an area's natural resources and watershed.
Under the direction of Mat Webber, Project Watershed's coordinator, the seventh-graders collected macro invertebrates and water samples from the brook. To collect specimens, students worked in several teams. Two students on each team held nets across the water, while other team members mixed up the brook's sediments to dislodge the specimens, which they sorted and brought back to their classroom to identify the following day.
Students also collected water samples and performed chemistry tests to determine the water's pH level as well as its amount of dissolved oxygen. The seventh-graders compared water quality measurements Webber had taken earlier in the day to their data and concluded that the water quality of Crooked Brook is fair.