A Creekside Elementary School fourth-grader’s mission was to test the water in a local creek and determine if fish and bugs could survive in it.
Natalie Simmons took a sample of the water and dipped a test strip in it. Then she compared the color of the strip to a chart to see if the acidity of the water in Hurricane Creek in Franklin would support life.
About a dozen students at the Franklin school took science and environmental lessons to a local creek when they tested the water with the help of the Franklin Department of Public Works.
The students are members of the school’s bionomics club, an organization headed by teachers who teach special classes such as art, music and gym. The club’s goals are protecting the environment through recycling and taking the message to their classmates.
Testing the local creek water was the perfect way to see how what they do affects the environment, said club sponsor Rhonda Bockover, who also is the school’s librarian.
“It makes it more real when the kids can see it,” she said.
The Franklin Department of Public Works has started the program that will allow students to go with them to test the city’s waters. Franklin Community Middle School students had a similar field trip last year.
Having students help test creek water lets students learn about their town and how to keep their environment healthy, said Sally Brown, lab manager for the city department.
The department pays for testing equipment for the students, often getting it free through environmental programs, Brown said.
And their findings are entered into an international database that tracks the health of the world’s water.
Students found that the water had enough oxygen and wasn’t too acidic to support animal life.
“It’s important that kids understand about their environment and community to keep our water healthy,” she said.
In a shelter in Province Park, the students learned how to test the relative acidity level of the water and what levels were conducive to animal life.
Then they headed to several points of the creek to conduct their tests.
Educators are always looking for ways to cross-teach students, art teacher and club sponsor Jill Coen said.
“We’re always trying to teach a child at every opportunity there is a teachable moment,” she said. “This is enrichment in another area.”