Environmental Monitoring Project- fecal coliform

SLV students are offered many different opportunities in all different areas; whether it is in athletics, theatre, or science. In the field of science, Ms. Orbuch offers one particular extracurricular activity that appeals to science lovers school-wide. Under her watchful eye, students conduct local environmental monitoring projects. These students spend many hours, before and after school, looking at different factors that play huge roles in our environment. Some of the projects focus on weather patterns, river conditions, water quality, and native animals populations. Each one of these projects have a topic to focus on while gathering data.

This month’s featured environmental monitoring project is  fecal coliform, a type of bacteria. This project is being conducted by sophomores Cassie Ackemann, Ava Badger, and Annika Bauerle..

Last year, when the ladies went to the first monitoring meeting, they thought it would be interesting to monitor sand crabs. However, they ultimately decided to pursue their research in a more local area.

When asked what they are looking for in their research, Ackemann, Badger, and Bauerle replied, “ We are looking for Fecal Coliform in the San Lorenzo River. Fecal Coliform is a generally harmless type of bacteria, but it is an indicator that shows levels of potentially harmful bacteria in the water. We are testing levels of fecal coliform to determine if water from different locations in the San Lorenzo River is safe.” They said that the point of their research is:  “To help further our knowledge about our environment. Because we are all interested in science, this is a great opportunity to figure out if we want to pursue a career in science.”

This is the first year that Ackemann, Badger, and Bauerle are monitoring this project, but this topic has been monitored for many years now. Last year, senior Michaela Sanchez monitored and studied this topic, which she passed on to these three current sophomores upon graduation.

As with anything you do in life, there will be both positive and negative aspects. The ladies working on the project said, “I think we can all agree that it is really interesting. It is a bit of a commitment, but the time sacrifice is worth the experience.”  As to the negative parts of their project,  Ackemann, Badger, and Bauerle believe that:  “The most difficult part of this project is field work. We haven’t actually gone out to collect water samples yet, because we need to determine days when all three of us and our two mentors have time to go out in the field.”

These girls working on finding more research about Fecal Coliform in the San Lorenzo River are among the many students working on different monitoring projects around the area. All of these students put in many hours of work and are dedicated to their findings.  If you would like to be one of the students working on this project next year, contact Ms. Orbuch for more information.

by Amanda Rinnet

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