Seven area science teachers literally got their feet wet Friday, learning biological sampling and data collection techniques from staff members of Heidelberg’s National Center for Water Quality Research.
The teachers are part of a partnership between the Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District and the North Central Ohio Educational Service Center, which joined to form the project, “Watershed Dynamics for 21st Century Learners.” It is funded by a $49,000 grant through the Ohio EPA for equipment, training and resources.
The latest stop in their training was in The Pond and Rock Creek on campus. Dr. Ken Krieger, NCWQR director, and research assistant Jakob Boehler spent the morning with the teachers, demonstrating proper techniques used to collect and monitor aquatic microinvertebrates and test water chemistry.
“It’s great that we can already use The Pond as a teaching tool,” Krieger said. Waders in place, he and Boehler led the group into the shallow waters of Rock Creek, where they tried their hand at collecting samples for analysis back in the lab. There, they searched for, sorted and identified the invertebrates.
Through the course of the grant, the teachers are participating in several workshops to practice using equipment, techniques and technology. Last week, they visited Stone Lab in Put-In-Bay to learn about chemical sampling for nitrate and phosphorus levels in lake water. During the summer months, the teachers will develop curriculum materials they will share with each other, and eventually, with other science teachers. Participating districts are Bettsville, Hopewelll-Loudon, Mohawk, Old Fort, Seneca East and the North Central Academy.
Beth Diesch, education coordinator for the Seneca Soil and Water Conservation District, said the availability of local resources makes science come alive for the teachers, and ultimately, their students. “They’ll be able to take what they learn back to their classrooms for real-world experiences,” she said.
Long term, she hopes students will come to understand that what’s happening in their own communities can affect watersheds in the Sandusky River and Lake Erie. NCOESC will develop an app and other technology tools the teachers can incorporate in their classrooms.