River Week at Cache La Poudre Middle School

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

It’s River Week at Cache La Poudre Middle School, and for a short window of two weeks, the river, which flows serenely behind the school, serves as an outdoor classroom and laboratory for students…

Though River Week is becoming an annual tradition at the school, Russell said the [recent asphalt] spills gave her an opportunity to compare water quality data her classes gathered from the river last year with similar data they’re gathering since the spills were cleaned up. “We’re going to be looking at all the things that affect how this river remains healthy,” she said in between announcing instructions to her 33-student class, sitting in small groups along the river bank.

Using electronic probes connected to a sensor and a calculator, students fanned out into the river to test the river’s nitrate levels, pH, temperature, water hardness and other qualities. “They are doing science,” Russell said. “This is what professional scientists do when they go out into the field.” Rarely do students get such an opportunity without having to apply for funding for a field trip, she said. The river is in the school’s backyard, allowing for not only scientific study and a chance for students to get their feet wet, but a chance for English, history, math and other classes to integrate the river into their curriculums…

Once back in the classroom, students will crunch their data, compare it to last year’s numbers and then create graphs to illustrate the differences. Honors students, Russell said, will continue to gather data through the winter for a more comprehensive picture of the river’s health. Doing that kind of science in the Poudre not only gives kids an idea about the level of pollution in the river, it helps “us open our eyes to what’s really going on,” said eighth-grader Joe McKey.

More education coverage here.

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