Wading into environmental discovery | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wading into environmental discovery

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily TribuneTaylor Hibler, 10 and Chelsea Wightman, 11, examine macro invertebrates taken from the Upper Truckee River on Tuesday.

Having the Upper Truckee River next to your school has advantages.

About 30 fifth-graders from Meyers Elementary School made the short walk Tuesday morning from school to the snow-packed edge of the river to be water scientists.

The 10- and 11-year-olds took note of the river’s eroding banks, caught bugs and tested water quality under the guidance of a group of environmental experts.

The experience will help expand their knowledge of the environment beyond recycling bottles and cans, said their teacher Bob Comlossy.

It could also mean a class trip to Disneyland.

“We’re looking at the bugs for a school project,” said Taylor Hibler, 10. “We have a contest to win, to save Lake Tahoe.”

The contest, called Jiminy Cricket’s Environmentality Challenge, is open to all fifth-grade classes in California. Winners of the trip to Disneyland will be announced in April.

By then Comlossy’s class should have processed the data it collected and have it posted on a Web site they plan to build.

“Scientists will actually use it if we do a good job,” Comlossy said. “We’ll come back in March, April and May and make it a regular thing.”

Keifer Berger, 10, put on big rubber boots before edging his way into the Upper Truckee to scoop a sample of water. Fred Wise, a parent who volunteered to help with the project, guided Berger and two other students through the water tests.

“Water has oxygen in it,” Wise told them. “If you get a lot of oxygen in it, things can live in it. So we’re going to see how much oxygen is in the water.”

Staff from the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Tahoe Resource Conservation District and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency provided the equipment and expertise used by the students.

Kim Melody, a coordinator for the conservation district, said she and her co-worker Erik Larson, are eager to help organize similar field trips for other students at South Shore.

“We have the stations set up,” Melody said. “Other schools could come out here and do the same thing.”

Melody can be reached at (530) 573-2769. Larson can be contacted at (530) 573-2766.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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