Guest blog by Carrie Jenkins and Rick Treadway, 7th grade science teachers at Sinagua Middle School
On April 11, 2016 a group of 48 Sinagua Middle School 7th graders headed into Oak Creek Canyon for an afternoon of water testing at Slide Rock State Park. After eating lunch at the park, we walked to the Apple Barn where we watched a short documentary about Oak Creek called “Loved to Death: The Story of Oak Creek.” The video documented the 2014 Oak Creek Ambassador Program in which concerned citizens with the support of local university students from U of A, NAU, ASU, and the Friends of Oak Creek, removed large quantities of trash brought into the park and along the creek.
Oak Creek is claimed to be the 3rd purest water in the world at its source. However, the trash left behind by the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year directly impacts the water quality of Oak Creek and leads to increased levels of e. coli causing adverse effects to the local ecosystem. Under the direction of U of A microbiologists in a mobile laboratory the students tested E.coli bacteria levels, water flow rates, pH, turbidity, nitrates and dissolved oxygen. Students learned proper water sampling protocol, testing procedures and levels that indicate healthy conditions for organisms within the aquatic ecosystem. Most importantly, we learned that we can each be an ambassador for Oak Creek.
Thank you to the SFAz+8 Pathways grant through Coconino Community College for funding the bus for this fieldtrip!