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World Water Monitoring Day

Ah, back to school time. Many par­ents in Howard County are doing dances of joy or are dread­ing the things that come with it like wak­ing up grumpy kids, nag­ging over home­work, etc. So I want to get to you all while you are still eager and fresh to rec­om­mend an activ­ity that is easy to do in a school set­ting, or on your own.

World Water Mon­i­tor­ing Day (WWMD) is an inter­na­tional pro­gram for vol­un­teers to test local water and report the results. It is easy and edu­ca­tional in so many ways. Basi­cally, you buy a kit online that comes with sim­ple instruc­tions and equip­ment for 4 tests – pH, dis­solved oxy­gen, tur­bid­ity, and tem­per­a­ture. OK, maybe that sounds hard, but I promise that it’s not. Dis­solved oxy­gen and pH are done by putting lit­tle tablets into the pro­vided tubes. Tur­bid­ity is done by putting the water in a plas­tic can and observ­ing a black and white sticker at the bot­tom. Tem­per­a­ture is done with a plas­tic strip that turns dif­fer­ent shades on the num­bered degrees. I actu­ally pre­fer using one of those cook­ing ther­mome­ters where the metal part that goes into the food is on a wire con­nected to a dig­i­tal meter. Or, you could email me and I can prob­a­bly bor­row a ther­mome­ter on a string for you. You do not have to buy the offi­cial WWMD kit, you can use your own equip­ment, but the basic kit is less than $20, includ­ing shipping.

This is a great activ­ity for a class­room. I have done it with a math class and we turned it into a sta­tis­tics les­son. Remem­ber mean, median, and mode? I have also used the WWMD kit as a demon­stra­tion for a GT class that was later going to mon­i­tor a local stream. There was no stream on the school prop­erty, so we prac­ticed doing the tests on some water I brought in.

This activ­ity can also be a social stud­ies or geog­ra­phy les­son, because the next part of WWMD is really cool. Once the tests are done, you log on to the web­site and enter the data. Peo­ple all around the world are doing the same thing– 340,000 peo­ple last year in 77 coun­tries. This is great for stu­dents, adults, Scouts, any­one inter­ested in find­ing out more about their local water and water around the world.

World Water Mon­i­tor­ing Day is offi­cially Sep­tem­ber 18, but you can do it any­time until the end of the cal­en­dar year. And it will start up again next March and run though the rest of 2013.

I highly rec­om­mend it, and con­tact me if you want more details. I can even help you find out if there is a stream on your school’s property.

Elissa Rei­neck
ereineck@howardcountymd.gov
August 2012

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