High school students complete unique project focusing on water quality at local waterfronts
by STAFF AND CONTRIBUTION
Aug 20, 2014 | 2099 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A High Tech High 11th-grade class recently began publishing the results from its unique oceanic research proj-ect that uncovered water-quality issues in San Diego and exploring the public’s general knowledge of these issues.

With the help of San Diego Coastkeeper, the students researched how different pollutants negatively affect the environment, conducted a survey of the general public and collected and tested water from six locations in San Diego — including sites along Mission Bay.

The research results from the project can be found in a blog series on Coastkeeper’s blog.

For their “Oceans Away Project,” High Tech High School teachers Tom Fehrenbacher and Heather Gastil organized more than 50 students into groups, each to explore different water-pollution topics like bacteria, cigarettes, fertilizers, heavy metals, plastics and prescription medications.

Through the partnership with Coastkeeper, the students were able to collect and test their water samples from the Ocean Beach Pier, Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Mission Bay Bonita Cove, Mission Bay at Tecolote Creek, La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Children’s Pool at San Diego Coastkeeper’s lab.

Using the information they had gathered from the research and water testing phases, the students created a survey to learn about the public’s awareness of pollution’s impact on the environment. The students conducted the survey with more than 1,100 people in San Diego County.

When comparing the data to the survey results, organizers found the information to be quite surprising:

• 17 percent and 16 percent of San Diegans surveyed believed Ocean Beach Dog Beach and La Jolla Children’s Pool, respectively, to be the most polluted of the six sites tested.

• La Jolla Children’s Pool showed very low levels of bacteria overall.

• Mission Bay at Tecolote Creek, a common place for recreational activities including windsurfing, is the location with the consistently highest bacteria levels.

Organizers also noted

45 percent of people surveyed believed that education is the best way to resolve the water-quality issues in San Diego.

“In order to take care of our environment for the future, we have to teach the next generation how to do so,” said Ben Staley, a High Tech High 11th-grader. “I am happy that others appreciate the gravity of the crisis and are willing to participate in a solution.”

In addition to posting their findings on Coastkeeper’s website, students presented their results at community events in San Diego.

For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper at www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

For more information about High Tech High, visit www.hightechhigh.org.

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