Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

Shane Riordan

NY Harbor School, Brooklyn, NY

August 2005


How can we determine the quality of the water?


Students Will Be Able To (SWBATO):

·         Identify important parameters of water quality (Dissolved Oxygen, pH, salinity, turbidity, and temperature)

·         Test least two of these parameters by independently following protocols with at least 95% accuracy as determined by GLOBE’s quality control protocols.

·         Operate sampling equipment safely and effectively as judged by a qualified instructor.

·         Determine the effect of variations in the aforementioned parameters, and how that might influence the quality of the water.

Materials: Test kits for above parameters.  Student protocols, and student data sheets.  Water quality animal threshold chart.

Introduction: Lesson should take place aboard a floating platform, which requires a waterfront location. The introduction to this topic can be in a large group.  Students will break up into smaller groups after introduction.  Students will be in small groups conducting the various sampling projects at various learning stations on board the vessel.

Motivation: will be asking the students if they would drink the water from over the side.  After the usual responses (most likely “no”) take a bucket from deck and get water from over the side.  Ask the students if they would drink the water now.  Keep putting the water into smaller containers until you reach a glass.  Ask the students again, what would they do? Drink or not?  Eventually, the sample will look like water from “home”.  Would they drink it?  Probably not because they know where it is from, but what if they didn’t?

Development 1: Use the motivation as an introduction into how do we define water quality.  Elicit student responses.  Get them to realize that pollution is not always visible.  Get them to start thinking about other forms of pollution – ie; thermal.  Why should we care about pollution we can’t see?  What else uses the water that is an important resource to us? Get them to start seeing the Hudson as a nursery for fish, crustaceans and shellfish.  All of these animals were once part of a major commercial fishery that was worth 40 million dollars a year.  Why is the fishery no longer active?

Development 2:  Each Learning Station will focus on one of the following parameters:

·         Ph – seawater

·         Dissolved Oxygen in seawater

·         Salinity

·         Turbidity

·         Water temperature

Each station will include time to discuss the importance of each parameter.  If time in small groups does not allow this then time in larger group should be set aside to provide this basic information.  If necessary, temperature can be combined with DO.  The last station will have a chart detailing what values the above parameters need to be in order to support native species of the Hudson.


Students will have to report what they found in their small groups to the large group at the end of the day before we disembark or after we are on the dock.  Any variation in values will be discussed to determine why there might have been a difference.  Finally, students will be asked to determine what species of native Hudson River flora and fauna could live in the Hudson based on the water quality we determined.  Was this consistent with what we caught in the net?  Students will fill out report sheets and upload any relevant data onto the GLOBE website the next class period.

These are the protocols used by GLOBE to test the various parameters mentioned:

The protocols are also available for free on the GLOBE website –


National Science Standards


Identify questions and concepts that guide scientific investigations.

Formulate and revise scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence.

Recognize and analyze alternative explanations and models.


Standard A Science as Inquiry

Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.

Standard A Science as Inquiry

Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.


Standard A Science as Inquiry

Communicate and defend a scientific argument.


Standard A Science as Inquiry

Design and conduct scientific investigations. Designing and conducting a scientific investigation requires introduction to the major concepts in the area being investigated, proper equipment, safety precautions, assistance with methodological problems, recommendations for the use of technologies, clarification of ideas that guide the inquiry, and scientific knowledge obtained from sources other than the actual investigation. The investigation may also require student clarification of the question, method, controls, and variables; student organization and display of data; student revision of methods and explanations; and a public presentation of the results with critical response from peers. Regardless of the scientific investigation performed, students must use evidence, apply logic, and construct an argument for their proposed explanations.