This year’s Ecology class is participating in a yearlong Project Based Learning initiative. Students have been given a task: to solve the mystery as to why Bantam Lake, one of the oldest natural lakes in Litchfield County, continues to have Blue-Green Algae growths. This past summer, the growth was so bad, that town beaches were closed and people were not allowed to swim in the water. The students have to find out all of the possible causes.
To help them on this exploration, they have done some research in learning the geology of the lake, the natural history, and other important information. Students have decided that there isn’t a lot of information on the lake available to the public, so they want to change that. They have also decided that they need to conduct water quality experiments to find out what is causing the algae growth.
The students have taken three field trips to the lake and supporting ponds, rivers, and streams. They have learned how to take water samples and test the water, conduct a plankton tow to find out the number of plankton, and use nets to collect leaf litter and mud to find out what is living in the lake. Students have also begun learning about the algae that is found in the lake.
On October 25, the students traveled to an area of Bantam Lake where they started collecting some baseline data to learn about the animals that live there. They caught everything from frog tadpoles, to baby catch fish, to various water bugs and a water scorpion (not related to the scorpion) in their nets. They also caught snails, Caddisfly Larvae, and various other insect larvae.
During the plankton tow, students saw the sizes and shapes of the Blue-Green Algae on slides under the microscope. Then they looked at the plankton under the microscope so they could learn about microscopic organisms in the water. Finally, they collected water and conducted various chemical test on it.
- Submitted by Science Teacher Missi Boyer
View photos from the Ecology lab here!