Source: Sherman Publications

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A tiny world to explore
Nature is their classroom

by CJ Carnacchio

May 15, 2013

Oxford Middle School sixth-grader Nick Knotts studies all the tiny creatures living in a sample of local lake water. Photo by CJC.
Every spring and every fall, like clockwork, Oxford Middle School's sixth-graders leave the confines of their classrooms to conduct some water quality tests in the great outdoors.

However, this spring, instead of testing and monitoring the OMS retention pond, the students got to exercise their scientific skills on nearby Parker Lake.

"Parker Lake is larger and has more vegetation as well as more diverse animal life," explained Jennifer Croteau, the sixth-grade science teacher who coordinates the program. "We found fish in the lake, something we never found in the pond. The macroinvertebrates were slightly more abundant."

So overall, how did Parker Lake compare to the retention pond? "Chemical levels were similar to the pond, with low nitrates and phosphates, and a neutral pH (level)," Croteau said. "Dissolved oxygen was lower than anticipated, and the results may have been affected by the air temperature."

Croteau noted the students found "many more mayflies" in the lake than they ever did in the pond, which is "an indicator of good water quality."