It's a lot more fun to think "let's go outside and play in the water" than to sit at a classroom desk, Amber Brushaber said with a smile as she walked away from Ten Mile Creek in Sylvania holding a small jar of water.
She and other students in an environmental science class at Northview High School took part in a preview session of the Student Watershed Watch on a sunny October day last week. The event, in which 16 area high schools were scheduled to participate, was yesterday.
The water Miss Brushaber collected will be tested for its oxygen content - one of the factors in determining the health of the creek at a point just north of the high school.
Teacher Michelle Bogue said the project gives students a sense of ownership of that portion of the creek. She's been involved in the event for five years.
"They take a good lesson away from it," Ms. Bogue said of the students who take samples for analysis and measurements to gauge the health of the creek.
Senior Amanda Hendricks wore hip-waders as she repeatedly put a ruler into the water and marked its depth at about 1-foot intervals.
She planned to take the depth notations and create a graph showing a diagram of the bed of the creek.
She agreed that students become more involved in the learning process when putting their knowledge to a practical application.
It's the 16th year of the project, according to Matthew Horvat, Maumee River coordinator for the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, which helped organize the event.
He said the watershed study isn't confined to scientific analysis. Students are urged to consider the public policy issues involved in the growth or lessening of pollution in the waterway.
After analysis, the findings of all the schools will be presented at a student summit at the Toledo Zoo on Nov. 16.
In addition to TMACOG, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Maumee Remedial Action Plan direct the annual event.
Mr. Horvat praised public and private donations that have supported the project.
He said most of the material used by the students in collecting and analyzing water samples can't be reused and need to be repurchased and there are other expenses involved in training teachers and producing the student summit.
The other schools testing area waterways are Whitmer, Bowsher, Byrnedale Junior High, Central Catholic, Clay, East Toledo Junior High, Eastwood Middle, Maumee, Maumee Valley Country Day, Natural Science Technology Center, Notre Dame Academy, Otsego, Scott, Southview, Start, and Toledo School for the Arts.