Stream Monitoring in Canandaigua – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
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Stream Monitoring in Canandaigua

The Finger Lakes Institute’s Finger Lakes Stream Monitoring Network program was featured in the Messenger Post papers recently. Students from Canandaigua Academy recently participated in the project by conducting analysis at Canandaigua Outlet and Sucker Brook.

The article explains, “Students examine the insects they find in the creek to determine how healthy the water is. They also test oxygen levels and examine the water flow. About 10 schools have gone out on the field trip, said Shelia Myers, education outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute.”

It quotes Shelia Myers, education outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute, “It’s kind of a citizen-science program, trying to get students interested in monitoring the environment. To do that, they have to learn about what’s living there.”

The full article follows.


Messenger Post
Finger Lakes schools head to streams for hands-on field trip

Melissa Daniels • staff writer • October 21, 2010

Canandaigua, N.Y. –
Dipping a five-foot-long net into a muddy creek and pulling out bugs might not sound like the most appealing of activities. But for Lauren Bates, a Canandaigua Academy freshman, and her biology classmates, getting the chance to do just that was part of a class field trip.

And for Bates, it was a welcome experience.

“We also started dancing in the creek,” Bates said. “It was so cold, but it was a lot of fun and it was really muddy, and we all got really dirty and wet, but it was really awesome.”

The group went to Canandaigua Outlet and Sucker Brook to do experiments as part of a region-wide program. They collected samples that they analyzed in the field and back at the classroom. In time, they’ll upload their findings to a website where other schools will post their information to create a database of stream-quality samples throughout the region.

Their results, interestingly enough, were the opposite of their hypothesis.
“Our hypothesis was that the inlet was going to be healthier, but the outlet was actually healthier,” Bates said. Maybe, she said, because the outlet water comes directly from the water treatment plant.

The field trip was part of the Finger Lakes Stream Monitoring Network program. Started by the Finger Lakes Institute of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the spring of 2010, the program provides training for teachers and access to equipment that allows students to take field trips to creeks to do hands-on testing.

Students examine the insects they find in the creek to determine how healthy the water is. They also test oxygen levels and examine the water flow. About 10 schools have gone out on the field trip, said Shelia Myers, education outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute.

“It’s kind of a citizen-science program, trying to get students interested in monitoring the environment,” Myers said. “To do that, they have to learn about what’s living there.”

The goal is to give students a chance to do actual scientific studies and show them what it’s like to do experiences out in the field.

Having field trips that tie in with lessons is a welcome experience, Bates said. Because it’s science, it helps to take a look at the world outside of a classroom, she explained.

“It’s so much of everything around us, just not in us,” Bates said.
Lynn Ocurr, biology professor at Canandaigua Academy, who took her class on the trip, said she’s been taking students out to do water testing for years. But due to financial constraints, the school can’t necessarily fund field trips anymore, Ocurr said.

Having the institute’s program means the students can still do experiments, she said.

“The problem is, with budget cuts, field trips are the first thing to go,” Ocurr said. “Anyone offering workshops that field trips are part of the payment for attending the workshop, I’m on it.”

But it’s important for students to have these kind of experiences, Ocurr said. Getting students excited about science and about the environment could propel them towards a career in science, an industry that’s desperately seeking workers, she said.

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