High school science teachers and their students have a new education tool to study water quality this year. The H2Know digital case study, available at H2KnowLearning.org, is an investigation of water quality challenges in Lake Erie published by the Nutrients for Life Foundation (NFLF).
NFLF is an education nonprofit that provides free, high-quality resources for educators about soil science and plant nutrients. The Foundation worked with numerous experts in environmental science, water treatment, soil science, agricultural engineering, and secondary education to develop the curriculum.
“NFLF has a long history of creating exciting and engaging science-based curricula, and this digital case study is the first of what we hope are many dynamic resources that bring a relevant issue in students’ backyards to the classroom,” says Karl Barnhart, chair of the NFLF Advisory Council and EVP and chief marketing officer of Brandt, an agricultural company and manufacturer of plant health products. “H2Know offers multiple perspectives to empower students with the lens of science and encourage a new generation of scientists.”
Written in alignment with Ohio’s Revised Science Standards and the national Next Generation Science Standards, the H2Know digital case study uses multimedia to aid students in the five-part curriculum. Students will gather information about the problem of harmful algae blooms (HABs), consider potential contributors and environmental factors, review data and research happening in the field, and engage in discussions and activities related to effective solutions that will improve the water quality of Lake Erie.
“Lake Erie is the Great Lake most affected by HABs. It gives teachers a great opportunity to build understanding of the complexity of ecosystems, the dynamic nature of water and earth’s processes, and the human activities that impact these systems not only in the Great Lakes, but across the world,” says Jane Hunt, retired environmental science educator and contributor to the H2Know digital case study.
The H2Know curriculum includes videos and interviews from water quality and agricultural experts, including Doug Wagner, water treatment superintendent at City of Oregon, Ohio; Justin Chaffin, Ph.D., senior researcher at The Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant, Stone Laboratory; Logan Haake, Ohio farmer and precision agriculture manager at Legacy Farmers Cooperative; Libby Dayton, Ph.D., research scientist at The Ohio State University; and Kevin King, Ph.D., research leader and agricultural engineer at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
“It’s important for the public to understand water quality is a complex issue, and there is no simple solution,” says Dr. King. “The next generation needs to be well-versed in technology, science and the issues. Through H2Know, students will see the multiple approaches and ongoing research in agriculture, such as using the principles of 4R nutrient stewardship, that will help achieve the phosphorus reduction target and environmental stewardship. We won’t solve the problems in Lake Erie right away, but bright, young students with these skills will be important for the future.”