Douglas High students will return to river in the spring for final water quality study
For Douglas High School forensic science students, It’s going to be fun to see how the river changes by spring.
So says DHS teacher Twain Berg, who with teacher Lyn Gorrindo, guided junior and senior students in what they call an “integrated lab series,” a study of the water quality in the Carson River at two sites: one where it enters the populated areas of the Valley at the old power dam south of Gardnerville and again as it leaves Minden at a site behind the high school on Highway 88.
“We got some good results,” Berg said. “The students put together why site 1 was different from site 2. Some of the students did a really good job of linking cause and effect.”
For instance, Mariah Archer, who earned a score of 100 out of a possible 100, said in her conclusion that (among other items) site 2 had higher oxygen levels than site 1, writing: “Site 2 had higher dissolved oxygen level, most likely because of a significantly greater amount of algae growth along the banks. At site 1, there was little or no growth, a drastic difference between (sic) site 2. The great amount of plant life could have easily caused a higher level of dissolved oxygen in the water. There was also less human interference at the second site. There was construction at site 1 working directly in the water, which would have decreased the amount of dissolved oxygen.”
Archer concluded that both sites, according to her study of the samples, differed by no more than 3.4 points with a water quality index score of medium .
Berg emphasized that the actual data generated by the students’ project is not as significant as the skills the students learned. When experts study water, they return again and again to the same sites and study their data over a long period of time.
Berg said the students, who gathered water samples at both sites on the river and took their samples back to the school lab to study them, will do the same in the spring and compare their results.
It will be interesting, he said, for the students to see the difference between two different water years.
The equipment used in the unit was purchased through grants from the Douglas County Education Foundation, the school-to-careers program offered through the state department of education’s occupation education division and an occupational education grant.