LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) — Large amounts of rainfall—as we’ve seen in recent days in Kentuckiana—brings more concerns than just the immediate flooding. As storm waters flow through city streets ad pipes, it carries with it pollution and trash and dumps it into local streams and rivers.
A group Louisville Male High School juniors and seniors are well aware of this problem, and their mission this year is to keep tabs on it and come up with solutions. Rather than reading from text books, ecology teacher Angela Page has her students pack up their beakers and vials twice per week and hit the Ohio River in canoes to interact with science hands on.
“I have taught my kids how to do chemistry tests to determine the health and quality of our water,” Page said. “My goal in teaching this class is to just get kids outside, to let them know they can be trusted with equipment and their own ideas. I think that is very powerful for students to have this experience.”
The course offers the needed information to its students, many of whom are looking into careers in science. It also becomes an eye-opening experience for them, as they see firsthand the impacts that humans have on the ecosystem.
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“When you’re out on the creek and you see everything in person you really get a sense of how bad things are,” said junior Alyssa Love. “We would dump our trash in here and we don’t really focus too much on what it does to our environment.”
In addition to monitoring the overall health of the river and streams, the students are also tasked with choosing a specific topic to conduct specialized research and explore solutions for a cleaner future. Love and her peers have decided to look into the plastic in the water, and the impact it has on the food chain. They hope that the broader community will take note and adjust its behavior.
“I hope they can see that the littlest thing they can do like testing the river and actually seeing the impact that we’re causing, [and] it will make them do their part to clean up our stream,” Love said. “As a team I think we definitely could clean it up and you doing your part definitely goes into helping that start.”
As for Angela Page, she hopes that other teachers will learn the advantages of teaching through experiences with hands-on learning.
“I think this is the way science should be taught,” she said. “The impact is going well beyond me. I’m just one person, and so I’m creating this army of ‘citizen scientists’ to help our planet when I’m gone.”
The students are working in conjunction with the Watershed Watch group in Kentucky. Their findings on river health are updated regularly on their website for the public to monitor. They also welcome interested community members to come out on the river with them.