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Students explore South Whidbey Harbor water quality, plankton

Rick Baker and sixth grade student Andrew Curtis, 11, search for plankton in the sample Baker retrieved at South Whidbey Harbor.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Rick Baker and sixth grade student Andrew Curtis, 11, search for plankton in the sample Baker retrieved at South Whidbey Harbor.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Students in Langley Middle School’s sixth grade class braved the bitter cold Monday, Dec. 9, all in the name of science.

The students traveled to South Whidbey Harbor for a project on water quality for their class. The assignment required the students to observe pH levels, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, nitrates and temperature.

Students learned about plankton in class before going to the harbor and will document the health of plankton in the upcoming months, said Sandy Gilbert, a science teacher at the middle school.

These are all lessons children need to hear, Gilbert said.

Sixth-grade student Aiden Coleman said the trip was a valuable experience, if only for his palette.

“I’ve learned a lot about the sea today,” he said. “And I’ve never been a big fan of seafood.”

Six people from Whidbey Watershed Stewards also volunteered to instruct the students on water quality.

The class hypothesized on the relationship between sunshine and aquatic plant growth in the harbor. The students used homemade nets from nylons to catch plankton, which got a little messy at times.

“It’s science, sometimes we get a little wet,” said Rick Baker, executive director of Whidbey Watershed Stewards, who volunteered for the day.

The class will come back to the harbor in a few months for more data and to see if their hypothesis was correct.

 

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