Lee County students take field trip with FSW to study water quality

Florida SouthWestern State College is inspiring the next generation to take an interest in the health of Southwest Florida waterways.

The college hosted Lee County schools on Wednesday as part of a STEM Camp where they learned about water quality in Punta Rassa.

Students collected water samples and recorded data.

“We are helping the fourth and fifth graders, elementary students, learn about water quality in our waters in Southwest Florida,” said Dr. Melanie Ulrich, microbiology and biology Professor at FSW.

“Well, I never knew that science involved like water testing, and I never knew that we water tested to see if like, it was good for fishing, swimming, boating, and drinking. So I’ve learned that and it’s really cool,”  said Paisley Orlando, a camper.

During the excursion, students observed algae and microplastics in the water.

“So we’re definitely seeing algae, which is common, especially this time of year with the warmer temperatures,” Ulrich said.

Of the microplastics, Ulrich said they don’t degrade fully and water life ingests them.

“They’ve found when they autopsy some of the animals that there’s a large number of different plastic sources in their digestive system, and it can be harmful and toxic to them,” Ulrich said.

Derek Painter, also a camper, said he and his classmates are the next generation of scientists.

“I feel like if we, if we can know what, what to do, and we’re older that we can help with the environment,” Painter said.

The students will also have to showcase what they learned by coming up with presentations for their parents by the end of the week.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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