Friday, April 27, 2012

Chemistry, From Barrow, Alaska to the Chesapeake Bay; Questions and Answers from Christchurch School

Calling all Teachers!  Please continue to engage the USNA PSP through questions from your classes.  I hope to engage as many educators as possible with interactive Q and A sessions!  Contact me at to participate.

Christchurch School is an Episcopal boarding and day school located near Saluda, VA on the Rappahannock River. Our science curriculum is an integrated science with a combination of basic concepts and practical applications. Our sophomore class focuses on chemistry. We have just completed a river survey of the Rappahannock River from the Chesapeake Bay to the headwaters in the mountains at Chester Gap. We ran turbidity, pH, nitrates, phosphate, DO, conductivity, salinity and conductivity and sample temperature. We have been following your posts and wonder the following:
1. Did you run similar tests?

We will be running tests for snow density, salinity of water at
different depths, as well as different halide ions in the snow and ice
(Cl- and Br- tests currently, more to follow). Some select samples will
be tested for methane, metals, and stable isotopes of oxygen and
hydrogen. Additionally, frost flower and ice core samples were plated on
different types of agar to grow bacterial colonies. A biology professor
at the Academy is looking for photosynthetic extremophiles with a
specific lipid structure that can be used to create biofuels. As of now,
he has only found different colonies of halophiles, but the growth on
the colonies is young so we're hoping more will come from the samples we
2. Would you be willing to share your results with our class. We would like to compare them. 

We will not have any results until this summer or next fall. I can
forward you the results then for you to use with your class next year.
Unfortunately, as a result of other time constraints with research, we
won't be able to run most tests until this summer.

3. What other chemical tests did you run or will you run on the ice core samples? 

The ice cores were originally going to be used to test for methane
concentrations in the ice. As the ice forms, pockets filled with methane
are also produced. Unfortunately, we were not able to obtain enough core
samples to run these tests so we have not determined yet what we will
test for instead. Again, this is something I can pass forward to you
once we have decided. The portion of the ice core at the surface/water
interface is being used to grow bacterial colonies.
4. Do the high school students in Barrow conduct chemical tests on their environment? Which ones if they do?

I do not believe high school students in Barrow conduct any chemical
tests on their environment. Scientists are constantly in the area during
research on the environment so I believe most of their knowledge comes
from the scientists who pass through and share their knowledge. I do not
know this for sure but this is what I gathered from our experiences with
the students.  Here is POC info for 2 teachers from Barrow H.S. if you would like to contact them directly and

No comments:

Post a Comment