Woon Watershed Explorers

The Narragansett Bay Commission’s Woon Watershed Explorers (WWE) program is a free, comprehensive, hands-on environmental education program that educates students and teachers about the health of their local watersheds through monthly in-class lessons, two water quality testing field trips, and a culminating environmental education symposium which takes place at the end of each program year. Every year, NBC staff educates over five hundred elementary school students and teachers from ten school districts located in the NBC service area. Although the lessons change a little from year to year to meet new state and federal education standards, the message remains the same: environmental stewardship. Through this program, students and teachers obtain a greater appreciation for their local watershed, and in turn use that appreciation to educate others about the watershed and how to protect it.

The 2011-12 School Year

September...Students officially become Woon Watershed Explorers

October...Field trip to local water quality testing site; NBC staff provides an introduction into how to use the water quality testing kit (see the data from October 2011 below!).

November...Build a Watershed project (students work in groups to build their own watershed model).

December...What can we learn from Amphibians?

January...Winter water quality testing in the classroom.

February...Macro-invertebrate Mania! Can crayfish, dragonflies, leeches, and other invertebrates teach us about water quality?

March...Poster Contest (students create a poster to enter into the NBC annual poster contest).

April...How do we clean our water? Students learn about the NBC wastewater treatment process to prepare them for their field trip to the NBC Bucklin Point WWTF. Also, spring field trip to the local water quality testing site.

May...Environmental Education Symposium at Goddard Park.


FALL 2011 WATER QUALITY DATA


Site Name

Dissolved
Oxygen

Nitrate
Phosphate


pH


Turbidity

Fecal
coliform

Esmond Park
Esmond, RI

7 ppm

0 ppm
1 ppm

7

0

+

Greystone Mill Pond
North Providence, RI

6 ppm

0 ppm
1 ppm

7

0

+

Lincoln Woods State Park
Lincoln, RI

4 ppm

0 ppm
1.5 ppm

5.5

20

+

Mowry Conservation Area
Smithfield, RI

4 ppm

0 ppm
1 ppm

7

0

-

Mello Field
East Providence, RI

4 ppm

0 ppm
1 ppm

7.5

20

+

What are these young scientists testing?

Dissolved Oxygen: This test tells scientists if there is oxygen present in the water. Aquatic plants and animals need dissolved oxygen to breathe and without it they would not survive. A good test result for dissolved oxygen is anything above a 6, which means the sample will turn either dark pink or orange.

Nitrates & Phosphates: Nitrate and phosphate are nutrients. Nitrate is usually found in fertilizer, food, or human or animal waste. Phosphate isusually found in cleaning products like soap or laundry detergent. Too many nutrients in the water may be harmful for aquatic animals and plants. A good test result for nitrate is anywhere from 0 - 5, which means our sample will either be clear or light pink. A good test result for phosphate is either a 0 or a 1, which means our sample will either be clear or light blue.

pH: pH is a test for acids and bases in the water. Types of acids are lemon juice and vinegar. Types of bases are laundry detergent and baking soda. Although these items are safe for humans, they are not safe for fish and aquatic plants. A good test result for pH is a 7 or 8, which means the sample will turn light or dark green.

Turbidity: Turbidity is a test to see how clear the water is. Bacteria and other things which are harmful to the water can make the water appear cloudy. If the sample is clear or just a little cloudy the turbidity is good.

Fecal Coliform Bacteria: This test tells scientists if there are bacteria in the water. Fecal coliform bacteria indicate that human, animal or bird waste may be present in the water. Clean water should not have fecal coliform bacteria in it. Water that has bacteria in it is unsafe to use for drinking, swimming, or fishing. In completing the fecal coliform bacteria test with our scientist kits, we want the test to be negative. A negative result tells us that there is no sign of bacteria in the water. A negative test result using our kit will turn red, have little or no air bubbles, and the gel in the tube will stay on the bottom. A positive test result will turn yellow, have lots of air bubbles, and the gel in the tube will rise to the top.