Marlinton Middle School Kids Test Local Stream Quality

(Sounds of a stream and children’s voices)

That was the happy sounds of 7th Grade students from Marlinton Middle School as they learned how to test the quality of the stream at Still House Run near Marlinton.

Marlinton Middle School teamed up with The Mountain Institute and the Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Force this spring to give their students the opportunity to spend the day at nearby streams and creeks and learn about water quality and how to test the water to see if the stream is healthy or polluted.

Denise Sharp, a Science Teacher at the Marlinton Middle School, tells us how this came about.

“In October I went up to the Mountain Institute with Anne Smith, the Green Bank Science Teacher” said Sharp. “And she introduced me to the ladies and gentlemen up there and the watershed activities that they do at Spruce Knob. And I decided that I wanted to get my students involved so that they could see how important science is to everyday people in the county and how important it is for them to monitor and keep an eye on their streams and creeks so we have nice fresh water for livestock and people.”

So just what were her 7th graders doing? I saw them spread out in small groups huddling over nets, charts and chemical water testing kits. Mrs. Sharp explains.

“Today they are actually doing water sampling where they take chemical analysis of the creeks and determine if they are healthy or not, if there is a good PH level – if it is acidic or basic –if there is living organisms in the water” said Sharp. “There are certain organisms that show you have a healthy stream like the May Flies, and there are other organisms like leeches and various organisms that show you have a poor quality of water in the stream. It shows the oxygen levels in the streams. They are also taking physical analysis.”

Mrs. Sharp says this is the second day of monitoring with students. The day before, different groups of Middle students were out. Mrs. Sharp.

“With the two different streams we were at yesterday, we had pretty good streams at both locations, said Sharp. The one was out in the woods and then we tested right above the Fish Hatchery yesterday. The Fish Hatchery water was actually not as good as the water in the woods.  And this one here is at Stillwell and there’s going to be a good little bit of human impact. So I’ll be interested to see how it compares to the one near the Fish Hatchery yesterday.”

I spoke with Kellee Waddell, the Education Coordinator for the Mountain Institute, a non-profit group located atop Spruce Knob. Kellee says that they work with kids all across the state providing them with outdoors educational experiences. On this day, the Mountain Institute was asked by Grazia Apolinares of the Pocahontas County Water Task Force to provide this water quality testing program to the Students of the County. Kellee describes what the students that you hear in the background are accomplishing.

“Today we are monitoring two streams” said Kellee. “We are here at Still House Run. Later this afternoon, we will do a second stream study on Jericho Run. So the students will get two opportunities to conduct these stream studies and have data they can compare to see the differences of temperature, and PH or Alkalinity and then biology which just uses nets to collect the little bugs that live on the bottom of the creek – the presence of absence of these bugs tells you a lot about the overall quality. And then the other group (of students) with Grazia is also doing two sites.”

Kellee says that the goal is to assist the students in accurately collecting actual data that will be submitted to the State so the kids are acting as actual scientists. Kellee was assisted in this by Madylne Bryant and Dan Hobbs of the Mountain Institute, and she wanted to thank Mitchell Chevrolet who donated the use of several vans to transport the students to the streams.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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