Timber Ridge eighth-graders learn about the stuff we drink
Skies: gray. Rain: steady. Temperature: 56 and dropping.
Still, none of Britten Clark-Huyck’s eighth-grade science students at Timber Ridge School on Tuesday morning said they’d prefer to be back in the classroom.
“I’d rather be out here,” said Kenny Volkers, 14, as his group took a break from testing the temperature, pH level and dissolved oxygen of Periwinkle Creek. “You get to interact instead of just reading about it in a textbook.”
Classmate Michael Lux said it’s too easy to get bored or distracted sitting at a desk. “When we’re out here,” he said, nodding at the surrounding Bowman Park, “it’s kind of fun just to do.”
Timber Ridge received a $5,000 grant from the Teaching Research Institute at Western Oregon University, part of a larger grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to do the testing. It’s part of a project called “What’s in Our Water?”
The grant paid for data collection probes, clipboards, 20 pairs of rubber boots, and community education presentations from the Calapooia Watershed Council.
The school’s whole eighth-grade class participated over the two-day project, some testing at Periwinkle and others traveling to Cox Creek.
At Bowman Park, Robin Galloway of the Oregon State University Extension Service advised students in collecting and studying tiny fish and macro-invertebrates from the Calapooia River. Heather Slocum, who manages the city of Albany’s Eco Rangers program, led another station clearing out some of the more invasive plant species around Periwinkle Creek, particularly blackberry vines.
The collected temperature, oxygen and pH findings will be posted on www.streamwebs.org, an OSU Extension Service website that compiles water monitoring data from schools throughout Oregon.
Clark-Huyck said she’ll be particulary interested in the two days of readings, given how Tuesday’s miserable weather contrasted with Monday’s sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s.
To get a variety, she made sure students took readings both at the edge of the creek and as close as they could get to the middle, depending on the height of their rubber boots.
“In the water?” one girl asked dubiously.
“In the water,” Clark-Huyck confirmed. “Scientists spend a lot of time in the elements, that’s for sure.”
Eighth-grader Riley Swanson, swishing a net in the Calapooia, said she’s considering “scientist” as one of her possible career goals. Tuesday’s experience didn’t prompt her to rule it out.
“I wasn’t so sure if I’d get bored doing it or not,” she said. “Not so far.”