By Dennis Berkey, Sixth Grade Teacher, Westview Elementary
Originally featured in Alliance of Indiana Rural Water’s Hoosier Pipeline.
Students at Westview Elementary School are becoming experts in water. This rural school with a large Amish population is located in LaGrange County. Sixth graders are building “pond” ecosystems and monitoring the water quality. Teachers and students love this hands-on approach to science and the lessons that are learned.
Groups of students started building their ponds approximately three weeks earlier. Aquariums housed water, gravel, hay, and dirt as well as several types of microscopic algae and animals. Students also wrapped the aquariums with tinfoil, allowing “sunlight” to have contact with the surface.
Students then tested the water environments several times a week. Temperature, ph, alkalinity, nitrates, ammonia, O2, phosphates, hardness, turbidity, chlorine and metal levels were checked and recorded for each pond. They also created slides, using microscopes to check the health of the living things in their ponds.
Donald Papai and Kevin Wenzel, from the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, came in and discussed the process of making dirty water clean and usable. They discussed how fertilizers and runoff affect our water source as well as how wastewater is treated in municipalities.
“You students are the future,” stated Mr. Papai, “Understanding the importance of clean water will impact generations to come.”
Our goal is that our students understand the importance of keeping our water clean and usable. We also want them to understand the impact we have on our environment.