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Activity 3: Inwood Hill Park Ecological Study_Water Testing


Activity Description

This activity involves a field trip to Inwood Hill Park where students perform mutliple tests on water samples and then spend the next week in class analyzing their findings.

Estimated Time of Activity

Five 45 minute classes plus a 2-3 hour field trip (Depending on student familiarity with microscopes and lab procedures, this might spill over into 7 or 8 45 minute classes)

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  1. Identify the tools needed to perform basic tests on water
  2. Know the importance of non-polluted water and the basic characteristics used to describe it (fresh, salt, brackish)
  3. Use powerpoint to make a short presentation of their findings to the class


Activity Instructions

  1. Some time needs to spent packing bags and discussing what will occur on the field trip.  We started out by sampling from three different locations.  We chose one location in the flowing Hudson river, one location along a natural beach with brackish water, and one location where fresh water was flowing out of bedrock.  The teacher should show students each piece of equipment and then describe where the students will be working.
  2. The field trip should come first, and all students will be working together going from water site to water site. Time should be spent where the teacher demonstrates the proper way to perform each test.  The teacher needs to demonstrate how to measure Ph, dissolved oxygen, salinity, and turbidity. 
  3. Students will then break up into their teams and at each site, each team will measure their water samples.  They will all take notes in their field notebooks and they will collect 10 ml of water to bring back to the class and analyze later.
  4. The first day after the field trip, student teams will empty their bags and organize their water samples.  The teacher should lead a short discussion about the first day (what went well, what went poorly, what was the importance, etc).  The teacher should also give a lecture on classroom lab based tests that measure nitrates, phosphates, and fecal coliforms.  Additionally,  the teacher should give a brief re-introduction to microscopes because students will analyze microinvertebrates found in their water samples.
  5. On the second day, students begin analyzing their results.  This is a good time to introduce Microsoft excel so students can store the information they collected.  They will write down the PH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and salinity results, and begin testing for Nitrates, Phosphates, and fecal coliforms.  They will also use microscopes and draw any microinvertebrates they find in the water samples.
  6. On the third day, students should finish testing their water samples and compile all their data in one shared spreadsheet, and then start working on a short powerpoint presentation discussing their results
  7. On the fourth day, students should continue working on their presentation
  8. On the Fifth, groups should present what they found and discuss any larger results. 


The teacher should assess students through their team presentations, the completeness of individual field notebooks, and the accuracy of the measurements made on their water samples.



  • Intro Water Lesson - ppt
  • Instructions for in class water tests - ppt
  • Instructions for Microscope (this can also be used to analyze soils) - ppt
  • Datasheet for water - doc