On Friday, October 2, NEWRnet graduate student Ryan Sleeper along with CWDD Staff met J.J. Flynn Elementary School fifth graders just a short walk from their school - on the shores of Lake Champlain! A few days earlier, the CWDD presented background information to each class about the work of VT EPSCoR. The fifth grade, led by teachers Joni Pecor, Keith Brown, and Michelle D'Agostino, has been involved in an extensive water quality unit this fall. Activities include a workshop with the Floating Classroom program, creating aquaria/terraria in the classroom, and visiting Lake Champlain with the VT EPSCoR CWDD.
On this windy fall day, students and their teachers walked down to the beach, where they could see the impacts of the recent heavy rain on the lake, with portions of the lake brown from sediment draining from the Winooski River, and other portions of the lake the more typical blue. At the beach, students divided into two groups to learn more about the research that NEWRnet does, and to measure parameters that enable scientists understand the health of the watershed and lake. With Ryan, the students were introduced to the NEWRnet sensor, and took note of characteristics including the pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. Then, they salted a demonstration "road" and washed the road salt into the "lake" to see how runoff impacts water quality.
Working with Laura Yayac and Janel Roberge, the students made observations about the beach site, including dominant vegetation, woody debris in the lake shallows, and sampled water and sediment from the lake to note any odors, colors, and other characteristics. To combat the chill of the wind, jumping jacks and group huddles were employed. It was a great day to be out by the lake and learn about keeping the lake healthy.