Article: Protecting Our Ecosystems

Protecting Our Ecosystems

Six students examining a tub full of creek water for life forms

Fifth graders at Churchville-Chili Middle School have been learning about the importance of clean water in the environment, and on Jan. 7 they welcomed Rochester Institute of Technology’s Environmental Education Specialist Kaeti Stoss to their classrooms to dive deeper into the subject.

Stoss is an ambassador for RIT’s water quality-focused environmental education programming for grades K-12. Her mission is to increase awareness and inspire young people to protect this vital resource. Fifth-grade classes had just finished a standard science unit on water and are venturing into a study of ecosystems and macro invertebrates, so Stoss’s presentation made an excellent learning bridge. Participating students learned about the unexpectedly high amount of water we use every day, the part water plays in building healthy ecosystems, the many threats to water quality, and practical actions they can take to cut down on pollution. They were also introduced to the concept of pH and learned the effects acid rain has on waterways.

Students were then able to do several hands-on experiments with lab equipment and water samples from Irondequoit Creek that Stoss supplied. With the help of Churchville-Chili Enrichment Specialists Andrea Lynch and Stephanie Ricci, students tested the water’s pH and then examined their healthy stream water for myriad life forms, including tiny fish, crane fly larvae and water beetles.

Feature photo: Stoss asked students to share their thoughts and experiences on how to keep waterways healthy.
This page: Water samples contained a wide variety of healthy fish, insects, larvae and mussels.

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