On Friday at the Ophir Elementary School, the science was real! Students in the fourth grade class completed a laboratory activity on pH as part of the Trout in the Classroom Module facilitated by the Blue Water Task Force. In addition to raising trout from eggs to adults in their classroom, the young students are learning the science of water quality monitoring. By the end of the year, they’ll be trained hydrologists well prepared to educate their community on how best to be conscientious stewards of the Gallatin River.
Two weeks ago, students “took the plunge” into chemistry, exploring the basics of pH and how to test it. The class learned that “Seven is Heaven” — fish are healthiest in water with a pH right around neutral. This past Friday, the young scientists learned the basics of safe lab work and got “their feet wet” by testing the pH of nine common liquids, including white vinegar and windex. After determining whether the “mystery liquid” was acidic, basic, or neutral, students formulated hypotheses to identify each liquid.
Armed with their new found knowledge of chemistry, the fourth graders headed into the field to test the pH of streams in the Gallatin Watershed. We tested the pH of Beaver and Porcupine Creek, and the run-off of excrement (just for fun!). Our results indicated that the pH of Beaver and Porcupine Creeks were right around 7. Clearly, this portion of the Upper Gallatin Watershed is a verifiable paradise for trout!