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Plymouth South Middle School, Plymouth, Massachusetts


Judith Bradley and Robert Skinner


Matt Miller, Mike Falkowski, Andrew Marino, Sadie Hinxman, Michelle Faria, Sinead Shriner, Jon Buote, Alex Dorn, Rachel Calderara, Ashley Bettencourt, Allan Maughan, Jason McNamaya, Frankie O’Brien, Jen Curley


The purpose of our study was to observe the changes in the Eel River over the course of a school year. These changes were to include the river’s profile, depth, flow, phosphorus and nitrogen compound loads, temperature, pH, and levels of oxygen. This examination was conducted by an after school group comprised of a dozen 7th and 8th grade students of Judy Bradley and Sharon Jeffery from Plymouth South Middle School.

Eel River has been the site of human habitation and use since ancient times. Native Americans used the area as a seasonal village. Artifacts and human remains have been found within the watershed substantiating its use. In 1620 the Pilgrims settled near the river as a source of both food and water. In the 1800’s the river was site of mills producing cloth, nails, tacks and candlewicks. As the town and its population have expanded the river has been affected by an increasing supply of nitrogen and phosphorus compounds from cranberry bogs, golf courses, septic systems, lawns, run off and as of 2000 the town’s new Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The river is designated a Class A water body. It’s fed by the sole source Plymouth-Carver Aquifer. Already classified as a nitrogen-limited river system, town engineers determined that the addition of even 1 mg/L of Nitrogen compounds could spell disaster for the watershed’s plants and animals, some of which are considered endangered. Currently under study by numerous environmental watch groups, it was the intention of these students to gather useful scientific data about the river, which could be shared with any concerned parties. This study would also serve to allow students to become “real” scientists in both field and laboratory experiences.

Our studies were:

  • November 2003: Field measurements with instruments
  • January 2004: Grab samples studied at BSC for E. coli
  • April 2004: Field measurements with instruments

Our group has met weekly since November. In the course of the year the students learned about our river’s history and importance, what its role is in our water supply, what demands are being put on it by humans. They learned how to use the instruments and their data to show the physical and chemical characteristics. They have also learned to work as a team with each individual carrying his or her share of the required work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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