Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Few Things ...

Take a look at the root systems on our Cedar Key Science Department Aquaponics system!

We harvested a huge collander of lettuce last week in biology class and had an awesome salad. The lettuce is about done now, so we will be pulling out the last lettuce plants and replacing them with basil, squash, and tomatoes.

Our prawns took a hit during a recent cold snap even though they were inside our lab.
That was depressing as we had a decent crop going and had nurtured them since last May.

Such is the life of a farmer.

A few weeks ago, I took my Marine Science students and Chemistry students to Manatee Springs State Park. I have a SPLASH grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District that funds water quality testing trips for my kids.

At Manatee Springs, we tested for nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen, ammonia, turbidity, and stream flow.

Dissolved oxygen was low in the spring boil as expected since it is ground water just arriving at the surface. 
The kids worked in teams and the tests were done redundantly and then averaged. All of their results were consistent and in a nutshell, we found that while ammonia and phosphate levels were below 1 ppm, the nitrate levels averaged a little over 1 ppm at the spring boil.
That may seem minor, but 1 ppm represents poor water quality when the subject is nitrates.Those nitrates act as a fertilizer and while we love them in an aquaponics system for growing veggies, we don't want them in our ground water.

The vast amounts of icky green filamentous algae that cover the bottom and every rock in Manatee Springs are most likely there because of those nitrates.

If like me, you knew Manatee Springs 20+  years ago, you remember the waving eelgrass and clean sandy algae free bottom that once existed there.

It's still such a pretty place that its hard to get across to teenagers that what they see is degraded.

That is the challenge.

Coquina continues to grow and amaze us.
She has mostly lost her puppy fuzz coat and has real Lab hair now.

She and Bear have become quite the team.
We are hopelessly smitten.


Pablo said...

Nice post, but the part I like the best is that blue and yellow building in the background of your first photo!

threecollie said...

Thanks for the update on things at PF. You do lead an interesting life..thanks for sharing.

Marilyn Kircus said...

I'm so amazed at what you do in your teaching role. I just want to start life over and get to be in your classroom every year.

Sure hope you get state Teacher of the Year so more people notice how important hands-on education that that also teaches environmental awareness is.

Anonymous said...

Ditto all the above, but I loooove the picture of Coquina. What a beautiful sweet lookin' lab she is.

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Floridacracker said...

That is a portable cookhouse that belongs to the children of the corn. (FFA)

Thanks. Feeling sad about the events near you in Herk. Glad you all are okay.

LOL! Thanks, but not likely. Florida is loaded with great teachers. I just do my thing and try to stay out of trouble.

Isn't she the sweetest thing? I remind myself of her cuteness everytime I feel like strangling her for eating a shoe or tinkling in the house.

Thanks bro.