Atlantic Middle School, North Quincy, Massachusetts
Grade 8 Students as Scientists Girl’s Environmental Group
This presentation was prepared as an overview of a six-month study conducted by the eighth-grade Girls’ Environmental Group at Atlantic Middle School in North Quincy. Due to lack of additional staff and large numbers of students, this smaller group of 15 girls was formed as an after school group which also sometimes met on Saturdays for the purpose of sampling. The girls decided that their goal for the group was to learn how to monitor a specific environmental site, and to learn more about their own neighborhood. This included acquiring an understanding of history of the area, both in terms of natural history and human land use. The girls also wanted to learn how to take water samples, and how to analyze them for water quality.
Our study got a late start due to the difficulties in finding a safe and feasible site in an urban area. Because of transportation and staff restrictions, we needed a site that was within walking distance. We also had to consider physical safety, since most sampling would need to be done late in the day. Additionally, parents and administrators had legitimate concerns about chemical pollution and dangerous debris such as car parts, bridge remnants, and other potential hazards. The increasing coyote population was a concern, as packs of coyotes have been following walkers. And the logistics of the sampling site was a concern, as we needed a spot that was not difficult to dangerous to access. With the help of Dr. Curry, we eventually chose a spot along Commander Shea Blvd. on the river side of Marina Bay.
Though we used the best possible site for access, we still experienced difficulties with sampling. This was mostly due to the mud flats and low tide, and the slippery nature of the outfall pipes from which we sampled. Prolonged winter weather did not make our efforts any easier. Therefore, grab samples proved to be the most feasible option for water quality testing. We used LaMotte test kits and additional nutrient analysis provided by WAL equipment to collect our results. We also spent time making observations around our site. Most notable was what we saw in terms of physical pollution and abandoned structures, and what we did not see in terms of cleanliness and wildlife. Overall, our testing was inconclusive. But our observations clearly indicated that our site was in poor health.
Atlantic Middle School, North Quincy, Massachusetts (2004). Marina Bay: A Glimpse at the Neponset River Watershed. In Watershed Access Lab Projects. Project 21.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/wal_projects/21
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