AP Chemistry students at Linden High School will conduct testing on the effects of land use on nutrient loading in the Shiawassee River this spring.
This was made possible from winning an environmental education grant for $1,624 from the Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals (MAEP). AP Chemistry teacher Christy Miller has developed a curriculum for the project.
“I’m very excited about the program because not only is this getting them involved in something local they can have an impact on, it’s very important for them to see the real world connections between the things we do in the lab and real world situations,” she said.
The grant will be used to buy equipment that allows students to collect samples from the Shiawassee River at the Linden Millpond and the Fenton Millpond. Both locations contain slow-moving water due to the dams and are in the center of the respective cities.
Miller said both mill ponds are very similar, but “the Fenton Millpond has a huge amount of algae growth.”
“Usually it’s a detriment. It depletes the oxygen out of the water, clogs up river systems. They harvest algae out of the Fenton Millpond because it gets so thick,” she said.
The students will determine if the surrounding land use affects algal growth, which is caused by phosphorus and nitrogen, and create strategies to mitigate the influence. Students will examine watershed maps, use the Insight Marker modeling system of the river, design experiments to test algal growth in response to different chemical compounds and more.
They’ll study the change in concentration of phosphorus nitrogen, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids and pH in response to algal growth. Then, they will compare these results to a computational model Miller developed over the summer that predicts the levels of sediments in the river based on land use. The students will then develop the best solutions to lessen the impact of land use on the river.
“The various components presented above provide the students with a wide range of real-world experiences, i.e., data analysis, field sampling, laboratory experimentation, research and communication skills as the students will be presenting their findings to other community stakeholders,” according to the MAEP.
Linden Community Schools Superintendent Russ Ciesielski said, “This is one of many examples of how Linden teachers are looking for ways to increase the impact they are having on our students and the community. Kudos to Ms. Miller for her hard work and dedication to our students and school.”