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Monitoring Water Quality: A Field Experiment
This lesson from Clemson University combines classroom work with a field trip to give middle school students hands-on experience in determining water quality. Students identify the abiotic (non-living) factors (such as water flow, temperature, pH, and turbidity) that influence a river or stream and examine the biotic environment by identifying the aquatic organisms they collect. They then assess water quality with the Pollution Tolerance Index, a tool that uses the pollution tolerance levels of certain “indicator organisms” to gauge the health of a stream. The lesson plan contains helpful background information and explains how to collect and identify organisms. A PowerPoint slide show adds close-up photographs of organisms likely to be encountered.
Program Director: Barbara Jean Speziale, Ph.D.
Award Years: 1998, 2002, 2006
Summary: Clemson University is a public research university in Clemson, South Carolina. Its HHMI-funded initiatives include:
- Interactive research communities for undergraduates from Clemson and three historically black colleges and universities;
- Extensive professional development opportunities, including graduate-level courses in bioengineering, bioinformatics and other topics, and summer and short-term courses on natural history, for middle and high school teachers;
- Two CD series that aid students and teachers in learning about various components of South Carolina ecosystems: the SC LIFE Image CD Series, consisting of hundreds of images of invertebrates and vertebrates, and the SC LIFE Interactive CD series, which explores the diversity of flora and fauna in the five physiographic regions of the state; and
- Programs, including laboratory field trips, for middle and high school students to improve their knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and natural history using multidisciplinary curriculum materials that are also available online.