For the past 3 years, Earth Team Pinole has participated in the GLOBE Student Research Symposium. This year Pinole interns will return in-person to the symposium to present findings for two different research projects they’re working on. The symposium will be hosted at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland! All 14 interns on the team have divided themselves into two groups. One group is working on a project investigating the effects of litter on water quality in Pinole Creek. The second group is interested in understanding the effects of acid rain on plant growth after several months of tending to the Pinole native plant garden.
The Litter Project
The research question posed by this team is, “How does litter change pH levels in water sampled from Pinole Creek?” To begin their investigation, group members conducted a litter assessment to find litter samples they could use for their project. During this assessment they found cigarettes, batteries, plastic food wrappers, straws, and other paper litter. Then they collected water samples from Pinole Creek and conducted preliminary water quality assessments. They tested levels of pH, alkalinity, nitrates, phosphates, and dissolved oxygen. Next they measured and poured sample water into glass jars and labeled them according to the litter type that was to be submerged in each jar. Over the next several weeks the team will conduct weekly observations and test periodically for changes in pH levels.
The Plant Project
The research question this team is asking is, “What is the difference in rates of plant growth and changes in soil pH when plants are watered with varying levels of pH?” This group started by collecting seeds from the Pinole Seed Library. They placed corn and pea seeds in soil to let the seeds sprout before planting them in containers for their experiments. Each week they are watering plants with water that is at 3 different levels of pH–distilled water (neutral pH of 7.0), acidic water (pH of 4.8), and basic water (pH of 9.8). They will be observing and taking measurements as the plants continue to grow.
In the following weeks both teams will continue collecting data before working on data visualizations for their research posters. Both teams will complete a poster and select members from each group to present at the symposium in May.