Thursday, May 8, 2014

Alabama Water Watch Program

We loaded up the van Wednesday morning and headed out for a 2-day water watch certification class held on the Locust Fork River.

Day one ran from 9-5 and covered water chemistry.


The lecture included a hands-on demonstration of how various types of waste end up in our creeks and rivers.



After adding various colored powders and items to represent loose soil, cow poop, yard clippings, plastic bags, vehicle fluids, fertilizer and pesticides, the kids made it rain.



Then we talked about ways to keep our water cleaner using various methods.

We had lunch, Chan was tired from being woken up so early!


Back for the next part, Mona and Sergio swapped out talking about the various things we would test for and why it's important to know what's going on with our water.

There was a good bit of how and why science, which is the best kind.



The kids did a game where they used smaller and smaller straws to try to breathe through while moving around to represent varying levels of oxygen in the water.





We had a short break to get ready to head down to the river.



Testing took a LONG time.  There were many steps to follow and different test tubes and chemicals, it was a lot of fun, but the kids were also very serious, wanting to understand and get the process right.




We tested for pH levels



Hardness and alkalinity.  Two sides of the same coin.
Those were fun, for hardness, you turned the water blue, for alkalinity, you turned it pink!




Because Deb steals my photos, some of her own kid!


Chan loves shaking chemicals!

Below, I do a test and asked Chan to get some shots of me Doing Chemistry.

My hand

Two fingers

A little of my hand.

A SELFIE of me with some sulfuric acid, Doing Chemistry.
And being darn hot!  It was 87.  I mean, 35.

Checking for Oxygen levels.

This is a long process, you gather the water in a very particular manner (well, it's very particular every time you do any test-that's why we trained, but this was a different type of particular).
Then you make it brown and chunky, then you shake it and make it dark yellow.



Then you turn it dark/black


Then you inject it with ANOTHER chemical until it turns back clear!!


Our last test was turbidity and that was the only one I was really familiar with doing already.

Back up at the house, everyone set up camp and Dave got the fire going.
We roasted and burned things and stuffed ourselves.



John played and sang for us



At some point the kids all ran off into the dark and the adults sat around the fire until it died.
Dave went off to gather up the kids, who were playing on a big cement slab and getting louder by the second.

We slept in the woods in our hammocks.  That would have worked well except it was chilly and there was a heavy dew-we were soaked and cold.  Then the express trains came through.  12 an hour for 5 hours, all blowing at all 4 intersections and the noise carried straight up the river like a funnel!

I did not sleep much.  Ben and Chan fared better, being more elastic and harder to wake.  Jake slept in the van.

I did enjoy watching the fireflies!  First of the season.

Day Two

Today started at 8 and ran until 12.  We covered bacteriological monitoring


I discovered this was a kitteh kitteh

She loved a snuggle.



Peeeeeeeetriiiiiiiii


Watching the testing parameters and procedures before heading down ourselves.


That water wants swimmers.


Top 10 photobomb.

These two are not my morning babies, single digit hours are when you go to bed.


Back at the table we learned how to add our sample to our petri dish.

No doubt she just made a pun.


Pour fast and slam it shut!

Tape, wait.

An hour later, they turn to gel and then you flip (to keep condensation drops from dripping into your sample) and stack and put them in the incubator.

They have to stay warm for 30-48 hours
We won't know if the water has E. Coli until Saturday afternoon.


We cleaned up, ate fast and bid farewell to Sergio and Mona!

Off to the river for a swim!


Thanks Deb and Dave and Mona and Sergio!
We learned SO much!!


About Me

Unschooling mama from the start with 2014, 2016 and 2018 graduation dates. I enjoy camping, reading, swimming, hiking and photography.