Environmental science students explore Two Lick

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By JORIE MEIL– Environmental science students had the opportunity to learn about nature on a recent field trip to Two Lick Creek. Students from Mr. Palko, Dr. Wilhelmy, Mrs. Hixson, and Mrs. Betta’s environmental science classes attended a field trip at the waterworks park at Two Lick Creek. There they learned about local waterways and how to protect them, and the life that inhabits them.

Students from Mr. Palko, Dr. Wilhelmy, Mrs. Hixson, and Mrs. Betta’s Environmental Science classes attended a field trip at the waterworks park at Two Lick Creek. There they learned about local waterways and how to protect them, and the life that inhabits them.

The day was planned by a graduate student at IUP as part of a research project. Not only were the students enjoying a day away from classes, but they also were helping collect data for the student. They collected data on the stream itself, and the life in it. The trip also tied into what the students have been studying all year. The class covers units on waterways and how to protect them, forestry, and pollution and AMD (abandoned mine drainage).

Throughout the day, students went to many different stations to learn and research. There were three “wet” stations that were in the water, and three “land” stations where the students were not in the stream or wetlands. Groups of eight or nine students rotated through each of these stations over the course of the day.

The first of the wet stations was the stream sampling station. At this station, the students gathered basic information on the stream. They collected data on the stream’s temperature, pH, height, and conductivity. As well as these things, they took a sample of the insects in the stream to get an idea of the water quality, and if it would make a good habitat for life. “I liked getting to go into the stream to find the different life,” said freshman Haley Hibsman.

The second of the wet stations was finding amphibians and reptiles in the creek and the wetlands. Students, equipped with nets, walked through a small creek and the wetlands to find amphibians and reptiles. Examples of animals that were found throughout the day were salamanders, tadpoles, and even some small frogs. Once caught they were put into tanks and recorded. Freshman Courtnay Leydic stated, “My favorite part of the day was the amphibian and reptile station because we got to explore the wetlands.”

The last of the wet stations was the electrofishing station. Electrofishing is fishing using a weak electric current or field. The purpose of this was not fishing for recreation, the purpose was to sample the different types of fish in the stream. Once the fish were stunned and recorded they were released back into the stream. The students found many different types of fish, including multiple types of minnows.

The first of the on land or “dry” activities was identifying macroinvertebrates. Groups of two or three students were each provided with a container full of water, plants, and macroinvertebrates, as well as, a sheet with multiple petri dishes to categorize them in, and an identification chart. The participating students would search through the container that had the insects, carefully pick them out, then identify them using the chart. “My favorite part was identifying macroinvertebrates because I found the insects very interesting,” said freshman Cecilia Sobolewski.

The next station was fly fishing. At this station, the students learned what fly fishing is, as well as how to fly fish. While they did not actually participate in fly fishing in the water, they still learned the skills that they would need if they were to go fly fishing.

The last station of the day was leaning about AMD. AMD is acid mine drainage or abandoned mine discharge. At this station, the students witnessed the effects of AMD, and learned how to protect waterways from it. They visited Two Lick’s AMD treatment tower where they use a lime product to treat the water of AMD. They also learned the importance of the wetlands, and how they can treat AMD by absorbing the bad minerals in it.

On this field trip, the students got to experience things that they have been learning about in class all year. This event not only gave the students a good learning experience it also helped out a college student with research that could help the world and its water.

 

[photo by Jorie Meil]

Freshman Kendall Menifee and Courtnay Leydic search the wetlands for amphibians and reptiles.

jorie-meil

 

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