Summer Research Program for Science Teachers

William Dugan

The High School for Math Science and Engineering @ CCNY


Testing water quality in the laboratory and the field


Preparation for salt marsh field trip

Do Now: What do the animals in our fish tank need to survive?

Do animals in the salt marsh have the same needs?

How can we find out if a sample of water is safe for organisms?

Allow the students to work in small group (3-5) to come up with some answers. Write the students answers on the blackboard. Circle the items we will test in class.

Temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen levels, Ammonia levels, Nitrate levels, Nitrite levels, Phosphate levels, Salinity

Investigation: Give each group three test to perform and a water sample. (Some of the tests are appropriate for the laboratory and some of the tests are more appropriate for the field. Make sure each group has a least one test from each category.)Have the students read the directions and complete the water test.

(National Science Education Standard B Focus and support inquiries while interacting with Students)

Presentation: Have each group present to the class what they were testing and how to perform the test. Each group should also express what setting the test is appropriate for. (Laboratory or Field) Why?

(NSES E Model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry)

Discussion: Discuss with students the advantages of each test. Introduce some of the graphing components of the Pasco probes.

If time permits introduce the New York City Department of Environmental Protection: 2002 New York Harbor Water Quality Report. Talk about possible sites to collect water through out the year and levels of Fecal Coliform, Chlorophyll A, and Turbidity at sites around New York City.


Materials: Temperature thermometer, Hanna instruments probe, Pasco Probe

pH Litmus paper, fasTesT test kit, Hanna instruments probe, Pasco Probe

Dissolved Oxygen DO snap-test kit, Pasco Probe

Ammonia Levels AquaLab test kit, fasTesT test kit

Nitrate Levels AquaLab test kit, fasTesT test kit

Nitrite Levels AquaLab test kit, fasTesT test kit

Phosphate Levels AquaLab test kit, fasTesT test kit

(NSES D Make the available science tools, materials, media, and technological resources accessible to students)

Homework: Each group member needs to look up the item they tested for and find out what is the average for a saltwater environment? What are acceptable levels? What naturally affect the levels? What impact do humans have on the levels?

This will be part of an on going project. Students will test water quality of the classroom and laboratory fish tanks through out the school year. Students will also perform field tests in the salt marsh, and will test collected samples from different sources around New York City.

(NSES A Develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students)

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