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The best way to learn about science, Aspen Country Day School teachers believe, is by actually becoming a scientist -- using the scientific method, conducting your own experiments, testing your assumptions, and using critical thinking to evaluate the results. And what better way to practice being a scientist than providing help to real professional scientists?
Fifth Graders at ACDS are part of a statewide water sampling effort that provides data to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Each month, the students work with teacher Brett Nelson to collect water from Castle Creek, which runs right through our campus. This January, they had an assist from the Eighth Graders as both classes joined forces to collect the data on everything from dissolved oxygen levels to water hardness, pH, temperature, and more.
With these projects, ACDS students are participating in an exciting national trend called Citizen Science. Think of it as data crowdsourcing -- "scientific research in which the public — people of all ages and abilities — participate," says Science News for Kids. "The data that these citizen scientists collect helps to advance research... and scientists can get data from many more people and places than would be available if they were working alone."
Later this month, a Department of Wildlife inspector from Glenwood Springs will come meet with our Fifth Graders about their data collection and the importance of following standard procedures. What's more, Eighth Graders are currently conducting research projects on local water issues, and they'll be making use of the information gathered by their counterparts in Fifth Grade.
While sampling the water, students are asked: What is dissolved oxygen? Why is it environmentally significant? Why does the Castle Creek have an abundance of dissolved oxygen vs. a pond of stagnant water?
In both of these projects, Eighth Grade scientists gain valuable practice in using data in their research projects, and Fifth Grade scientists learn best practices in lab work. Students also deepen their understanding of a topic that is critical not just to the Rocky Mountain region but also to our planet -- the importance of clean water, water usage, and conservation.