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Southmoreland students test water in Greenlick Run

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Testing the nitrate level of Greenlick Run are students Samantha Gray and Jake Beistel.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Measuring the stream are Brittany Hollis, Kylee Tkacs and Jake Negri.
Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Checking out what was caught in the stream are Harley Smith, Nickole Couch and Emily Comforti.

Taking to the outdoors for the second time this year, students from the Southmoreland High School earth and science classes ventured to Greenlick Run to spend a morning testing the water in the little picturesque stream that runs through Bullskin Township.

“They will be testing the Water Quality Index, and the Pollution Tolerance Index,” said teacher Lindsay DiCasolo. “They will use that information to determine it's condition.”

Several weeks ago, the students did a similar testing at Stauffer Run in Scottdale, a stream that has issues with urban run-off and mine drainage.

“They will now be able to see the differences between a healthy stream and one that is not so healthy,” DiCasolo said.

The students, which number about 150, have been learning about the importance of water quality for several weeks in their in-school classes, and found it fun and interesting to be able to take their new found knowledge and apply it to an actual body of water.

“We've been learning about water quality,” Jake Beistel said, adding he enjoyed the outside classroom. “I think this is fun. It's interesting.”

The students worked with the stream's physical characteristics, its biology and its chemistry.

“I think that this project is a great way to get these kids outdoors and to actually see what they are learning in the classroom,” said Patty Miller, Jacobs Creek watershed executive director. “I think that they learn more by actually being able to apply in a hands-on manner what they learn.”

The students had far better luck at Greenlick with the catching of macro-invertebrate, as the clean water produced plenty of little creatures for them to study and release.

“This stream is in far better condition than Stauffer Run,” DiCasolo said. “They'll find many things here that they can study.”

The students will now take both sets of results from the two different streams and compare them, then they will design and build ways to clean the polluted water of Stauffer Run.

Their water cleaning methods will be used on two-liter containers of the water they will experiment with in their classrooms.

“This is a more productive way to teach the kids about the environment,” Miller said. “This is isn't a book. It's a great way to get the kids out and to actually see and learn about their environment.”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.