Local elementary school students developed hypotheses and conducted research to learn about water chemistry during an annual yea-long science project. Photo credit: Gustavus School 4/5 Class
Every year, the local fourth and fifth graders develop and conduct a year-long, place-based scientific study. Working collaboratively, they choose a topic, develop hypotheses, conduct research, compare results and draw conclusions. This year, the students decided to study the intertidal area and water chemistry. The students took biweekly field trips to the Gustavus Beach and Bartlett Cove and followed established research methods. For the water chemistry component, students tested turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, nitrates, phosphates, and more. Students also conducted regular inventories of intertidal creatures to determine if more species would be found on the smooth sand beaches of Gustavus or the rocky slopes of Bartlett Cove. Additionally, each student selected and researched a particular intertidal creature.
Some of the students' hypotheses proved true, some false, and some inconclusive. However, each student completed this study with a better understanding of the scientific process, hard work, and the natural world around them. I think that most park staff will agree that this is one of our favorite research projects!