Youth are learning about and using based water chemical monitoring to discuss water quality across northeast Michigan
Youth across northeast Michigan have spent time outside the classroom this spring and fall through place-based education projects collecting water quality data to be shared across the region through the National Geographic FieldScope Great Lakes site. Youth collected both biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) data incorporating inquiry and experiential learning through partnerships developed within the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI).
For abiotic (non-living) factors
Youth began by discussing four key questions:
- What are abiotic factors?
- How are abiotic factors important to the ecosystem?
- How do they get into the water?
- What level of each parameter do you think we will find today (high, moderate, low)?
Youth used the Lamotte Pondwater Tour to test for the abiotic parameters of ammonia, nitrates, dissolved oxygen and pH.
After making a variety of observations, youth engaged in a discussion answering the last three key questions. They learned that ammonia and nitrates are forms of nitrogen that exist at typically low levels in aquatic ecosystems, but are essential to plant life. Ammonia and nitrates enter aquatic ecosystems via natural processes like the decomposition of animal and plant matter (both aquatic and terrestrial), and by runoff from agricultural land. When ammonia levels are too high in an aquatic ecosystem, the environment can become toxic to fish and other aquatic animals...
To read more about this Center for Great Lakes Literacy supported student stewardship project online, click here!