Reading the Rouge
Riverview Community High School Chemistry teacher Laura Kremkus (right) assists sophomore Lauren Sparrow, 14, with a phosphate test during a water sampling project of Rouge River in Northville Thursday.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW– In a grassy patch near the Rouge River in Northville, members of Tom Hughes’ science classes squint in the sunlight and swat at persistent mosquitos.
“This is nature,” Hughes tells them. “River water’s not gonna hurt you.”
Venturing into the river was a job reserved for Hughes in his waiters during a trip with his class and Riverview High School Chemistry teacher Laura Kremkus to collect and test samples of water and soil from the river to turn over to Friends of the Rouge. The group collects similar samples from 12 other area schools during the fall and upwards of 40 during the spring to send to local government bodies so they can monitor the river’s health.
“I think they get an appreciation for nature and how water impacts the environment,” Friends of the Rouge Program Manager Emily Hughes said, “how science can be applied for the real word.”
The students broke into groups to test the water samples collected by Tom Hughes for oxygen content, pH level, nitrates, phosphate, bugs and other attributes. Each student picked the group he or she wanted to be in.
Junior James Quick, 16, said he chose to be on the “bug hunt,” team because he was always drawn to bugs and especially wanted to learn about macroinvertebrates.
He said he was excited when he found out his class, none of whom had performed water sampling before, was going to sample the river.
“I was like, it’s a river, let’s go!” he said. “I’m just in it for the bugs.”
Natalie Schulte, 16 and a junior, said she was interested to see what was really in the river.
“I’ve lived here,” Schulte said. “It’s kind of nice to see what’s really in here.”
Kremkus said the sampling project, which the school has done for nearly 20 years, gives the students opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
“A lot of students never get the opportunity to go into the environment and actually learn about what’s in the river,” she said. “They learn a lot about why we have to keep the river clean.”