Term Project : Water Quality

Purpose: Measure the water of a local area water body (lake, pond, river, or creek) throughout the term to see test a hypothesis proposed by you. 

Learning Outcomes:


  • Learn about data acquisition, and measurement precision, accuracy, and reliability.
  • Learn about watershed dynamics and water quality issues.
  • Use the scientific method to test an hypothesis proposed by you.  Remember you can never confirm that an hypothesis is true but only test to see if it is false. 
  • Design an experimental strategy for consistently measuring water quality (several measures of water quality are useful)
  • Precisely collect and record data.
  • Create a presentation of your observations in both written and visual form.
  • You may work with one partner on this project.


    Click image above to enlarge

    Water quality is a very complex issue with many possible factors influence different aspects of water quality.  Keep an open mind and don't be afraid to take extra data that may seem unimportant at the time. 


    Each Student must:

    Buy a low cost water quality kit and thermometer (available at Clark College Bookstore)

    Select a location to take water quality measurements

    Propose an hypothesis to test with your water quality kit over the course of the term: Connections between a water quality measurement (s) and temperature, rainfall, sunlight, stream flow, stream depth, or turbidity might be the basis of a possible hypothesis; or a connections between one water quality measurement an another. 

    Review the scientific method see:  Scientific Method Overview  or QuickReference

    The first 27 pages of "Watershed Dynamics" by William S. Carlsen - 2004 can be accessed for free at Google books  http://books.google.com/ .  Just go to Google books and type Watershed Dynamics into the search box.  These 27 pages have some good background information about the physical characteristics of watersheds you may even want to get a copy of the complete book (Optional) but the links below cover aspects of water chemistry and ecology.

    Review of  Water'sTheMatter. Use the 1-5 links on this site in the graphic, "Water's the Matter", to learn about the reasons for water quality and how your water quality tests inform you about local water.
    Review the Presentation for modules 2-5 and use the post-test to check your understanding.

    Review:  How to Monitor Rivers (also applies to lakes or ponds)

    Review:  Water quality and Macroinvertabrates  You may want to take counts of macroinvertabrates as one measure of water quality.

    Make measurements at your site at least 5 times over the quarter spanning 5 or 6 weeks. Once a week would be great!

    Each time you go out to your site take notes about what you observe including your specific measurements.  Is it cloudy, sunny? ... Does the stream seem lower or higher than the last time? What changes do you see in the surroundings?? type these note up in the for of a diary.  It can be 3 or 4 sentences,  These are your field notes.

    Each Student must write a report including the feature described below.

    **  if you open this map up in Adobe Reader you can zoom into your specific location and then do a screen capture to save just that image.  To do a screen capture press the Alt and Print-Scrn keys at the same time.  This captures to active window to your computers clip board.  You can then paste this image into any document by using the Edit paste command (Ctrl-V).  I usually like to paste it into the paint program (found from the start menu all programs accessories) so I can crop the image and annotate if I'd like).