News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Students sample waters of Suttle Lake

This spring, 32 Sisters High School (SHS) chemistry students worked with Steven Peterzen of The ISTAR Group and SHS science teacher Rima Givot to build the OARS program, in which students explore Suttle Lake ecology through chemical analysis of the water column and benthic sampling of the lake bottom.

Canoes made for a non-polluting vessel to access the deeper waters of Suttle Lake, which is a glacial carved, spring-fed mountain lake west of Sisters. The student scientists used water sampling kits to test the chemical limnology for pH, magnesium, calcium, hardness, phosphate, nitrates, carbon dioxide, and dissolved oxygen levels.

The students then compared the water chemistry of Suttle Lake to glacier-fed Whychus Creek and tap water samples taken at Sisters High School.

From the canoes, the students collected microbenthos and macrobenthos samples, organisms that inhabit the bottom of the lake, by means of manually controlled dredges as well as used Secchi targets to record water visibility. Through the OARS project the student scientists began a data baseline and will continue to collect data on the water chemistry and benthic sampling for future monitoring on the health of the lake.

The data collected will continue to be used for chemical analysis of the water samples and result in written scientific reports. The real-world application of chemistry helped the students to both connect to the classroom learning and develop a deeper sense of understanding of a water resource, as well as a connection to their local environment through education outdoors.

The OARS project was funded by Battelle Memorial Institute.


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