Development of a Water-Quality Lab That Enhances Learning & Connects Students to the Land

By Enos-Berlage, Jodi | The American Biology Teacher, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Development of a Water-Quality Lab That Enhances Learning & Connects Students to the Land


Enos-Berlage, Jodi, The American Biology Teacher


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Recent calls for change in undergraduate biology education have encouraged the development of curricula that focus on connecting science learning to real-world challenges (AAAS, 2009). The goal of such curricula would be not only to enhance science educational opportunities, but also to promote civic engagement. Assessment of such courses indicated that students made significant learning gains in multiple areas, including greater confidence and interest in science (Weston et al., 2006).

One of the major challenges facing humans worldwide is that of water quality. Recent assessments of rivers and streams in the United States indicated that 44% of them were impaired, the leading causes being pathogens, habitat alterations, and organic enrichment/oxygen depletion (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2009). In Iowa, a major agricultural state, over 75% of assessed streams and rivers were impaired, including waterways in all 99 counties. Although one of the top sources of water impairments is agricultural activities, relatively few members of the nation's population have backgrounds that would provide them with substantial knowledge of agricultural practices (fewer than 1% claim farming as an occupation). The lack of familiarity with agricultural practices that affect water quality and the unique problems faced by agricultural producers poses challenges for developing an informed citizenry that will need to work cooperatively to address water-quality issues.

The goal of this study was to develop a microbiology laboratory curriculum module that would connect student learning to a real-life challenge, specifically a local water-quality project. Inherent in this goal was to have students experience an impaired watershed in multiple ways--by physically touring and observing agricultural practices in the watershed, sampling and testing water and soil, and interacting with landowners. The watershed would also serve as the venue by which students could learn about the major impacts of microbes in water quality and natural environments, including nutrient cycling. The intent was to create a laboratory series capable of serving a large number of students, expanding on the positive outcomes of involving undergraduates in water-quality-related research projects or dedicated courses (James et al., 2006; Koosmann et al., 2011). Significantly, although the lab module was specifically developed for a college microbiology course, it could also be adapted for use in general biology or environmental science courses at the college or high school level.

The primary focus of the laboratory series was the Dry Run Creek Watershed, a 20,172-acre sub-watershed of the Upper Iowa River that drains into Decorah, Iowa (see Figure 1). Dry Run Creek has been designated as impaired by the State of Iowa because of high bacteria levels, and a collaborative partnership that includes Luther College, Iowa State Extension, the Iowa DNR, and local landowners was recently formed in order to improve water quality. Undergraduate student research projects were developed to monitor water at 13 sites in the watershed. The educational benefits that emerged from this work provided the motivation to expand it to a larger number of students. Several of the established sampling sites were thus chosen for the laboratory series, on the basis of their contrasting adjacent land use. Stream site S1, located downstream of woodlands and a natural spring, and site S2, located downstream of a large, active agricultural region, were used for examining turbidity and bacterial levels. Stream sites S3 and S4 were used for nitrate analysis. S3 is relatively unique in the watershed because it primarily drains a large farm in the conservation reserve program (CRP). This land is planted in long-term, resource-conserving cover crops (e.g., perennial grasses) instead of annual agricultural commodity crops; CRP ground is not tilled, nor will it receive fertilizer applications for 10-15 years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Development of a Water-Quality Lab That Enhances Learning & Connects Students to the Land
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.