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No Longer Fond of the Local Pond

A Case and Laboratory for Elementary Water Analysis



Co Authors:

Stephanie L. Luster-Teasley
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
North Carolina A&T State University
luster@ncat.edu

Janie G. Locklear
Department of Civil Engineering
North Carolina A&T State University

Niva S. King
Department of Civil Engineering
North Carolina A&T State University

Abstract:

When an elementary school teacher calls in sick to work, she finds out that she is not the only one who will be missing school that day.  Children from her fifth grade class have also become ill and parents are calling to report the absences. The concerned principal of the school finds out the fifth grade class had a field trip to one of the local parks the day before. The case shows the areas visited by the class and provides discussion between the principal and a physician that teaches the readers about water quality and EPA standards for bacteria levels in recreational water. The case has an optional lab component that provides the theory for three methods that can be used to conduct microbial water analyses.  Procedures are included for teachers to lead a lab activity to test water to identify which location in the park caused the illness. This case study and accompanying laboratory activity are recommended for an environmental engineering course or a lower level science course.

Objectives:
  • Identify aspects of water quality; provide examples of biological factors that affect water quality and human health such as total coliform, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and Giardia lamblia; and recall EPA recommended levels for safe exposure to bacteria in surface water.
  • Analyze water samples to determine bacteria presence in water.
  • Interpret their data for the concentration of E. coli bacteria in the water samples and explain how their lab results link to the victims' illnesses.
  • Hypothesize locations where the highest levels of bacteria would be present at the park.
  • Recommend best practices for preventing illnesses due to E. coli infections.
Keywords: Water quality; public health; laboratory; bacteria; microorganisms; water standards; E. coli; EPA; total coliform; membrane filtration; IDEXX
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Middle school, High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Laboratory, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Microbiology   Public Health   Environmental Engineering  
Date Posted: 6/25/2015
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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