Heritage Park High School students boarded a barge this morning to participate in a hands-on learning experience through the Living Lands and Waters program based in East Moline, Ill.
Once aboard, HPHS students participated in two lab experiments: Biological Magnification and Water Quality Testing.
The project was coordinated by Katelyn West, science teacher at Heritage Park High School, as part of ongoing studies in the areas of biology and environmental sciences.
“I am excited to take our students on a field trip that offers hands-on activities which will have a significant impact on their lives,” West said. “We have been studying the effects pollution has on different species of fish. This trip reinforced what the students have learned and allowed them to become stronger in their attitudes and beliefs about the environment.”
In the Biological Magnification experiment, students learned about the effect water pollution has on all levels of the food chain, especially the top, as they interacted with live predatory birds on the floating classroom. Energy isn’t the only thing that is passed up the food chain – persistent, fat-soluble pollutants, heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides such as DDT and PCBs also impact life at every stage. The simulation illustrated the concepts of bioaccumulation in tissues over the life of an animal and the biological magnification of these pollutants higher in the food chain.
In the Water Quality Testing experiment, students collected water samples from the Ohio River and tested them for a number of water quality parameters, such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, turbidity, nitrates, phosphates, pH and alkalinity, using LaMotte Water Quality test kits.