Best of the Week 2018-2019: Teaching to the Future
ST. ED'S SCIENCE DEPARTMENT CHAIR WINS NSTA AWARD FOR INNOVATIVE STUDY ON IMPROVING LAKE ERIE'S WATER QUALITY
Congratulations to St. Ed's Science Department Chair Mrs. Anne Marie Lavelle who was awarded the 2019 High School Level Vernier/NSTA Technology Award for her Lake Erie Water Quality Study. This award, co-sponsored by Vernier and NSTA (National Science Teachers Association), recognizes educators every year for their innovative use of data-collection technology. Mrs. Lavelle was awarded $1,000 cash, $3,000 in Vernier products for her classroom, and will get to attend NSTA's national conference in St. Louis this April where she will be recognized for her study. Mrs. Lavelle's Lake Erie Water Quality Study acknowledges that Lake Erie's water quality is deteriorating due to an increase in pollution (particularly contamination caused by microplastics), algae blooms (which threatens the drinking water during the summer months), agricultural and nutrient runoff and high bacterial counts. The study's procedure requires students in St. Ed's Environmental Science courses to conduct a field sampling study six times over the course of a year to monitor the quality of Lake Erie's waters. By using Vernier's technology through Go-Direct sensors, students could better analyze the temperature and pH levels of their samples (shown above). Throughout this project, students will not only conduct an investigation of the properties of water (i.e. temperature, pH levels, turbidity, total solids, dissolved oxygen, Biochemical Oxygen Demand, phosphates, nitrate, bacterial concentration, ammonium nitrogen and alkalinity) and their effects on earth materials and surface processes, but they will also develop a technological solution to reduce human impact that negatively affects our natural surroundings.
Aside from uncovering the potential problems that Lake Erie faces, the goal of this study, which will be continued into the 2019-2020 school year, is to help students recognize that the sustainability of society and biodiversity requires responsible management of our natural resources while providing them with advanced skills that will prepare them for success in college science and engineering courses. "By its very nature, this project is expanding the experiential learning not just inside the lab, but to authentic fieldwork," says Mrs. Lavelle. "The study's use of hands-on technology for data collection, analysis and interpretation directly reflects our goal to teach to the future and having Lake Erie as a great resource in Northeast Ohio helps educate our students to protect and respect this natural resource even more." This study has helped jump-start St. Ed's "Going Green" Initiative that will expose students to more sustainability projects that will increase their environmental awareness and encourage them to take action to improve our local communities.