Water Quality Improvement Through Community Campus Partnerships

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Water Quality Assessment of Water Bodies in Atchison

Dr. Paul Steinbach developed a service-learning project involving water monitoring and testing of local creeks, streams, and ponds in the City of Atchison area. Gathering the water and conducting the tests were Dr. Steinbach’s Chemistry of the Biosphere students. This course is for non-science majors only and usually consists of freshmen and sophomore Benedictine college students and one teaching assistant. The water testing was to be done to fulfill the lab portion of this course.

For the purposes of working in small teams, the students were grouped into pairs for water collection, testing, and presenting results. Pairs of students tested from previously-identified water sampling locations within the Atchison city limits. The locations were of interest to the City of Atchison personnel due to their tendency to flood, and these areas had not been previously tested to anyone’s knowledge. The testing was expected to produce evidence of potential environmental problems in these areas.

The students collected water samples. The water was stored in individualized containers and immediately brought back to the lab for analysis. With guidance from Dr. Steinbach and the teaching assistant, students tested the water on several parameters, including pH, dissolved oxygen, air temperature, water temperature, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, conductivity, chloride, bromide, turbidity, and sulfate. Students will conduct a verbal presentation of their results to their peers during class. City of Atchison officials are invited to attend these presentations.