The theme of the 2016-2017 class is based on local water quality issues and how we can address them. In our second year of offering an immersion-based experience for the middle school class at Morgantown Learning Academy, we broke the content into three trimester projects. Throughout the year, we’ve learned about a variety of water issues starting with the national level (1st trimester), then moving to regional (2nd trimester) and, lastly, a local issue.
First Trimester – Physical Science
During this time, students learned the basics of how to test and understand water quality parameters such as pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and salinity. The students were able to sample within West Run and Lemon Creek, two streams that run through the school property. Marc Glass, a staff scientist with Downstream Strategies, guest lectured on local water pollution issues and the water chemistry associated with these pollutants. Students also had a visit from staff at The Mountain Institute and had a more in-depth experience with water quality parameters and sampling procedures.
Second Trimester – Life Science
The life science trimester explored bioindicators associated with water quality. We studied benthic macroinvertebrate sampling protocol and identification while learning pollution tolerance within the insects collected. Students were also given the opportunity to learn fish anatomy and pollution tolerance during a hands-on dissection lesson. The second trimester project was a mock Town Hall meeting regarding the 2009 fish kill in Dunkard Creek. Students were given roles of people involved in this real-life event. Each students was tasked with creating an explanation for what (and who) caused the fish kill and what measures should be taken to restore the quality of the creek.
Third Trimester – Land-Use and Conservation
For the last trimester, the class is learning about watershed management with lessons on hydrology, soil and water conservation. The students will take what they’ve learned to develop solutions for an area with bad water drainage on the MLA campus. Students will install (2) rain barrels on campus and will create a solution to deal with the water drainage on campus. At the end of the trimester, we will choose the best solution and implement the project.