EducateSRQ, Monitoring Water Quality at Local Beaches

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Education Foundation, 1960 Landings Blvd, Sarasota

More than 250 eighth graders in science teacher Sara Kuhar’s class at Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences learned about the importance of conducting water quality monitoring research at local beaches. Working in small groups, students did not hesitate to wade thigh-high into the waters of South Lido Beach to collect samples to test for water quality measures, particularly the presence of microplastics. 

Students’ investigations included selecting independent and dependent variables, hypotheses, experimental procedure, data collection, analysis of data, drawing conclusions, and communicating results. Students compared water quality indicators and the presence of microplastics and summarized their research through essays and presentations. The data was provided to the Florida Microplastics Awareness Project and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris tracker. Educator Sara Kuhar noted that the project helped her students become more engaged in community involvement while developing an improved sense of teamwork and cooperation as they collaborated in small groups to conduct research.

“Students learned how to take water samples using scientific tools to measure, and they were excited when they successfully identified plastics in their samples,” Kuhar said. “Before this project, most students had very little understanding of the impact of plastics, but after helping clean up plastic waste on the beach and then finding it in water sources, they gained a deeper appreciation for efforts to minimize plastic waste.”

Kuhar credited the EducateSRQ grant opportunity with helping engage her students’ curiosity, leadership abilities, initiative and self-direction, while increasing student motivation and improving participation and attentive behavior. “Several students, who typically were unmotivated and low-performing, discovered that they love working with the water quality sensors and microscopes. These types of opportunities could be the inspiration needed to lead more students into science-based careers,” Kuhar said.

Funded by EducateSRQ, the teacher and classroom grants signature program of The Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

Education Foundation, 1960 Landings Blvd, Sarasota

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