Ocean Views: Creek Study

What is a Watershed? This is a question that students will continuously ask while making their way through the Ocean Views Project. They’ll discover that the answer may be in their own backyard.

During an introductory lesson, each Kennedy and Pescadero class learned about the creek habitat and the scope of their project. The students learned all about temperature, pH, nitrates, phosphates, and velocity. Each of these components of a creek ecosystem can tell us how the health of the creek is faring.

The Watershed Discovery Foundation (WDF) is one of MSI’s partners for this collaboration. WDF is a non-profit education organization dedicated to providing immersive, hands-on experiences that encourage and foster students to become responsible land stewards, protect our water resources, and make long-term positive changes locally. Their education programs promote scientific understanding and connection to watersheds by student-led exploration.

On October 19 and 26, the students from Kennedy Middle in Redwood City took a nice 15 minute stroll up a few blocks to Stulsaft Park. Approximately 18 students at a time made their way to one of the entrances of the park, jumped into some boots and were all set to study the creek. This was my first experience with this Redwood City neighborhood park and it is beautiful. There were various trees surrounding the creek. The students enjoyed watching all the insects that gathered on the creek’s surface. A handful of students had great recollection of the parameters that we were studying. Each group had a recorder and every student took part in every test that was conducted. There were 5 groups each day that made their way to Stulsaft Park.

Here are the average data from one section of the creek. There were a total of three sections in which data were collected.

Ocean Views Creek Exploration Site 1 10.19
Weather Cloudy, Foggy
Turbidity 54.4 cm
Water Temp. 16.16 C
Air Temp. 20.44 C
Dissolved Oxygen 9.69 PPM
Nitrate 0.04 PPM
Phosphate 0.26 PPM
Velocity 1.22 sec
pH 7.44

I enjoyed this park so much, that on the following Sunday  I invited my mom to take a hike with me there. We enjoyed the brisk air and the variety of people, dogs, and plants that we encountered. I explained to my mom what activities the students were up to while at the park.

On Friday November 2nd the Pescadero Middle students walked around the corner to a neighbor’s property to take data along the creek. As we walked to the creek we talked about run-off. The students noted that there was irrigation from farm land (I learned that most farms in Pescadero are organic), there was some dog poop on the road that the students knew would have an impact on their data, and some trash.

This day was absolutely beautiful, so when the students completed their data collection we hiked through the vine covered creek to a nearby pumpkin farm, and then back to the campus. On the way we saw snails, slugs, crickets, and a variety of unique plants.

This week I will be heading back into the classroom where the students will analyze their data.

The next step of this wonderful project is coming back to the Marine Science Institute. During the last week of November all students will be joining MSI on the R/V Robert G. Brownlee to continue their knowledge-building about watersheds. Check in next time for more Ocean View activities.


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