Some novice scientists in elementary school are taking the classroom outdoors and in the creek.  Fourth and fifth grade students have work to do, studying the water in a creek behind their school and learning about the creek and area watershed. 

The students, known as Kids in the Creek, are enthusiastic and excited when the visit the small creek, and have no fear of going in the water to find out what they need to know. .

Taking the Classroom Outdoors and In the Creek
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The group of students from Fillmore Elementary in Davenport Iowa adopted the creek four years ago and meet once a week to learn about and care for the creek and surrounding watershed. Site-based and classroom experiments help them gauge the quality of the water, teacher Lori Kimmel said.

Wearing green rubber waders, the students and Kimmel jump into the swirling water without hesitation and quickly get to the task of testing the pH level of the creek.

They use small, white tester strips to determine how acidic or basic the water is using a 14-point color-scale. The tester strip will turn red in acidic liquids and blue in basic ones.

Fourth-grader Courtney Burns dips the strip into the water and holds her hand over the strip to protect it from the rain. She and fellow fourth-grader Braden White count to 15 and compare the color at the tip of the strip to the color scale. After two tries, the pair determines the water tested between a 5 and a 6.

Taking the Classroom Outdoors and In the Creek
Click image to purchase book

“Five’s pretty acid for our water,” Kimmel tells the students. “Maybe the rain is changing it.”

As a recognized Iowa volunteer water monitoring site, data from the students’ work is included in a statewide initiative on water quality.

The club also holds an annual cleanup of the creek. During last year’s cleanup, the group pulled traffic cones, grills and the front end of a motorcycle out of the creek, Kimmel and the students said.

“We feel the creek is our responsibility,” Kimmel said. “One of the things we really want to do is pick up the garbage. It’s part of our community.”

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