Collier County AICE students enjoy the classroom of the outdoors as they learn to study water quality

Do you know what’s in our water? Thursday afternoon, students got a hands-on lesson sampling our water right here in Southwest Florida.

You’ve got a teacher and you’re taking notes, however, you’re far from school. But don’t mistake that for not being in class.

“We come down to FGCU Vester Lab in Bonita Springs, take them out on the boat, do water quality sampling, bring it back into the lab,” said Kathy Schroeder, an AICE marine science teacher at Palmetto Ridge High School.

AICE students sampled salt and freshwater while studying their qualities.

“This field trip experience really prepares the students for the big test at the end of the year because it’s real science, it’s college-level science and it’s a great experience,” said Collier County Public Schools Secondary Science Coordinator Ryan Westberry.

Palmetto Ridge High School students learn about water quality. (WINK News)

“My favorite part would probably be just learning about the equipment,” said high school junior, Antonio Petraglia.

“I started with recording all the data, so I was just recording what they were reading to me and then in the back of the boat, when they were taking the plankton sample, I was in charge of putting the cup under to grab the plankton,” said high school junior, Rosamaria Calero.

Once students collect their samples out on the water, they’ll take them to the lab to check them out under a microscope.

“See actual living phytoplankton and zooplankton under the microscope that they just pulled in off the boat and see what’s going on and what’s living our environment,” Schroeder said.

In turn, understanding our water can show us if the water is healthy.

“It’s important to educate the next generation on basically all of the issues that they might face in their lifetime with these water quality issues,” said FGCU graduate student, Andrea James.

Sometimes, the best classroom doesn’t have desks or walls, but is our own backyard.

Collier County Public Schools and FGCU had 13 planned field trips this school year. The goal is to expand the trips to more students in the future.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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