Floating Secchi Disk
Image by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

WAJ Science Club Tests Local Water Quality

Students from Windham-Ashland-Jewett’s (WAJ) Science Club spent an afternoon learning how to test water quality in the stream and pond at the Siuslaw Model Forest. Anna Harrod, 4-H Natural Resource Educator, and Deb Valerio, WAJ teacher, demonstrated how to use tools such as pH kits, secchi disks, and turbidity tubes to gather data on the quality of the water.

Students take turns lowering the secchi disk into the pond

Students began the day expressing their thoughts on the importance of water quality and how it can impact them and local wildlife. The group hiked to the stream on a particularly cold November day to collect the majority of their data. Rotating through three stations, students tested the pH of the water using a wide range pH test kit, collected water in a turbidity tube to judge the clarity of the water, and recorded temperature and observations about the stream banks and visible vegetation. The water was found to be just about neutral (7-7.5) on the pH scale, and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the hike back to the bus students stopped at the pond where a thin layer of ice had formed. After breaking apart some of the ice they used a secchi disk to note the clarity of the pond water. Students took turns lowering the disk into the water from the bridge. Despite the cold the students thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use these scientific tools.

This activity represents the first of six sessions the WAJ Science Club will participate in exploring topics about wildlife in the forests and waters of the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley. Students will be partaking in programs at the Siuslaw Model Forest exploring habitats and expanding their knowledge of natural resources and data collection.

The WAJ Science Club would not be possible without the generous financial support of The Windham Foundation. Their support has enabled Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) 4-H Youth Development Program to create hands-on natural resources and environmental awareness programs, offering these elementary age students an exciting opportunity to learn about the natural world through visits to CCE’s Siuslaw Model Forest. 

Photo: Students take turns lowering the secchi disk into the pond.

Last updated November 25, 2019