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Student Scientists Present Findings from Reimagined Watershed Project

April 22nd, 2021

Female student standing in a stream taking a water sample.

HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano joined other county leaders and decision makers on April 21 at the seventh Annual Watershed Report Card Virtual Summit, hosted by the Howard County Conservancy. At the summit, student representatives presented their Watershed Report Card, a yearlong assessment of the watersheds that drain Howard County, all of which impact the Chesapeake Bay.

Watershed teachers, partners and volunteers reimagined the Watershed Report Card project this year, so students could safely experience this learning opportunity. Approximately 100 HCPSS freshmen, representing each Howard County public high school, collected data in person through afterschool stream survey field trips, which also included family and community members.

The Watershed Report Card program is embedded in the 9th grade curriculum for all HCPSS freshmen. The data collected by the students in the afterschool field trips enabled the rest of the students to analyze local data virtually in class. Watershed teachers and Ann Strozyk, HCPSS environmental educator at the Howard County Conservancy, also created a video for each high school, so all 9th graders could learn about the techniques and their school’s findings.

Participating students work like professional scientists to develop researchable questions; collect and analyze samples from streams, rivers and other bodies of water throughout Howard County; report data results; collaborate in their Earth/Space Science and GT Biology classes; and communicate their assessment.

Male student examining a net while standing in stream.

Student findings are now more readily accessible as longitudinal data incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS), highlighted in a Water Reporter Spotlight case study.

At the summit, watershed teacher Jessica Kohout from Reservoir High School was recognized for earning last year’s Green Apple Award from the Howard County Environmental Sustainability Board and the Howard County Conservancy. The award recognizes teachers who excel in increasing student awareness to environmental issues.

The Watershed Report Card is a collaboration between HCPSS and the Howard County Conservancy, and was supported by a mini grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Photo caption: Students could participate in stream surveys as an afterschool program this year, due to the pandemic.