OACGC Students Knee Deep in Aquatic Science
Written by: Bethany Hellmann, OACGC Education Specialist
For years, the Outdoor Adventure Club of Greater Cincinnati (OACGC) has provided a safe place for students to have fun, explore and connect with nature. This year, OACGC initiated a new educational component to its outdoor programming, entitled Lunch & Learn. After their morning outdoor activity, students learn about a topic related to the day’s activity.
For instance, on kayaking trips, OACGC Education Specialist, Bethany Hellmann, teaches students about the importance of water quality monitoring through an interactive presentation along the Little Miami Riverbank. She then leads a field study in and about the river. Students from Greater Cincinnati Area schools enjoy getting their feet wet (literally) on the subject of water quality. Students learn to use a Secchi disk, which determines the river’s turbidity/cloudiness, capture several temperature readings upstream, midstream and downstream, and use pH strips to assess the acidity of the water. Students also collect live river organisms called aquatic macroinvertebrates. Students use nets (and sometimes their bare hands!) to catch dozens of healthy, red crawfish, enormous freshwater clams, damselfly nymphs and water pennies. Students use Identification sheets to classify each captured organism. All aquatic macroinvertebrates are humanely released back into the Little Miami River.
During the recent kayaking adventures in September, the students concluded from their water quality monitoring and scientific observations that the Little Miami River falls within the ideal pH range for river water of 6.5 to 8.5, and has reasonably low turbidity/cloudiness. Collection of pollution intolerant aquatic macroinvertebrates also indicates low levels of pollution. Overall, the Little Miami River appears to support a healthy ecosystem!
It was great to see students demonstrate their leadership abilities, teamwork and scientific observation skills in these water monitoring activities. Indeed, we have found many budding environmental scientists in our midst!