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Waste Water Research

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Keywords: Water Quality, Environment, Social Justice, Chemistry, Service Learning, Green Roof, Green, Community, Authentic, Research
Subject(s): Technology, Earth Science, Information Skills, Biology, Photography, Service Learning, Civics, Math, Chemistry
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Green Tech High Charter School, Albany, NY
Planned By: Chris Priedemann
Original Author: Chris Priedemann, Albany
Connecting urban students to the chemistry curriculum presents unique challenges. Few students see chemistry as a component of their lives after high school. Showing them the connections between the theoretical applications of chemistry and the world beyond their classroom walls is only able to alter their perception slightly. To truly modify their viewpoint, students must actively engage in using chemistry on a project that they are passionate about. Student feedback from last year suggests that students would like to take on a large project about local pollution issues. In order to collaborate with the biology and earth science teachers, we have decided to explore waste water runoff from storm events. Students will be responsible for exploring the impacts of these events, analyzing and testing water samples that they collected from various sites in the city and present their conclusions to the community and local state officials.

Part of this project will have students collecting and analyzing water samples from their neighborhoods, from the traditional part of the school's roof and a proposed green living roof. Students will use their point and shoot digital cameras to document test sites and capture the impacts of runoff water. We anticipate students taking pictures of flooding storm drains, debris and pollution blocking storm drains, water discharge from roofs and gutter systems, discharge of waste water into the Hudson River, water quality and appearance at the local pine bush preserve (Tivoli lake) and along the Hudson shoreline. Students will learn to use photography as a means to encourage policy change and support social justice in their communities. Photographs will be used to create posters and brochures for presentations.

Students will also use these cameras to document the construction and establishment of our living green roof. Students will document the quality of the runoff water and how the green roof structure works. Students will also document the growth of the sedum cuttings as the plants become more established on the soil media.

Lastly, students will present their findings to local city and state officials and propose areas for improvement that would benefit the communities that they live in. This sharing of information will encourage students to take on other challenges that their communities face in an effort to improve the quality of life and environment of the neighborhoods of Albany, NY. Students will be given the opportunity to present their research through the Google Science Fair through which they will develop websites/blogs to share with the world. Their images will play a large role in expressing the significance of their research to the global community.
Green Tech High Charter School is a small, college preparatory, all-boys charter school in Albany, New York. We are a Title 1 school with the majority of our students receiving free or reduced lunch. The opportunity to have authentic research in our classrooms will revolutionize how these young men view science and its role in their community and lives.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The cameras requested will also be used by the biology teacher to monitor the growth of plants under various conditions. She also intends to have the students take the cameras into the community to document different biomes and niches. The Earth Science teacher would like to use the cameras for student documentation of various land-forms, weather systems, and geologic features.

The Green Roof project will be an interdisciplinary project incorporating the Math, English, Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology departments. The cameras will be shared within these departments.
The maintenance and evaluation of the local waste water will be an on going project at Green Tech that will demonstrate to students the power of science research. We would like to partner with a school downriver from Albany in the future to share data on the river's water quality.
Links: Link to Green Tech High
Link to Mr. Priedemann's Class Website
Materials: Point and Shoot, Batteries, Memory Cards