Michelle Renollet, left, and Kristin Martin, both 13, check the water's alkalinity and acidity.
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While she and the rest of her classmates were waiting for some of their water quality experiment results, Miranda Link realized something else about the Portage River first-hand: The water is cold and wet.
"I sat in the river," the 13-year-old Eastwood Middle School student said matter-of-factly while she and a friend were attempting to dry her soaked jeans with a roll of paper towels.
Though her tall rubber boots failed to keep her dry, they seemed to work well for the other 16 students in Eastwood's advanced seventh-grade science class who were also wading into the river at a spot in Pemberville to conduct a variety of water quality testing experiments.
"I like water," yelled 12-year-old Mallory Walker as she sloshed through the river to get to shore as fast as the current would allow her.
The students were in pairs taking water samples from the river to test for temperature, acidity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen, among several other tests. They had been preparing to take the tests by learning about water for the past eight weeks in the classroom with their science teacher, Diane Rose.
And their knowledge shined through.
Clay Rolf, left, Greg Zink, and David Dennis, all 13, collect specimens they will identify.
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"We're doing a total solids test measuring how many particles are floating around in the water," explained 13-year-old Ashley Seifert, while holding a cone-shaped cylinder filled with river water. "It can affect the aquatic life, but it looks pretty clear."
Nearby, Ciera Ward, 13, was handling the nitrates test and said she liked doing the hands-on experiments. "They're fun and it is also a great learning experience," she said.
Other students liked the experiments for different reasons.
"It's pretty fun because you get to get off school for a little while and you get to do experiments,"
said 13-year-old Seth Hoffmann, who was measuring the murkiness of the water, and said he didn't think it was as clear as it could have been.
Michelle Renollet, 13, said she liked getting ahead of some of her peers.
"It's fun because you learn about stuff people learn when they're older," she said as she was checking out the water's acidity level. "We learn stuff earlier than other classes and we learn stuff they don't usually learn."
Ms. Rose said it's important for the students to learn about water and the environment in general.
"I want them to see how the quality of water not only affects them, but they affect the water," Ms. Rose said. "It gives them experience collecting data and I hope it instills a sense of appreciation for the environment when they become adults."
After they calculate the results for some of the tests in the classroom next week, Ms. Rose said the students will be preparing a power point presentation and a poster display to present to their peers at the 10th annual Student Congress held May 3 at Bowling Green State University.
The congress is a part of the Portage River Basin Education Project, which is supported by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments to encourage a new generation of environmental awareness.