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Students get water pollution lesson

May 07, 2007|by TRISH RUDDER

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - A hands-on demonstration about water pollution was part of a recent after-school program at Pleasant View Elementary School.

The topic was "Who Polluted the Potomac River?" and the science discovery program was presented by the Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council Inc. of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Volunteer Lily Burrows, a registered nurse, taught a class of first- and second-graders, while volunteer Lisa Sodee, who is a retired schoolteacher, held class for the third-, fourth and fifth-grade students.

Burrows and Sodee had a container of clean water in the classroom to simulate what the Potomac River might have looked like back in the 1600s.

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Each student was given a small container of items that can pollute the waterways, which included picnic debris such as foil, plastic foam and plastic, and other pollutants such as fertilizer, weed killer, motor oil, detergents and antifreeze.

While the teachers read a story about things people use that pollute the water, each student poured their contents into the container of clean water when their item was read.

"Yuk" was uttered frequently by students as more contents were poured into the water and it darkened.

Both classes boomed out a resounding "no" when the teachers asked if the water was safe to drink or swim in.

The class also learned about cleaning up the river.

Screens and filters were used to remove the debris from the water in the containers, and Burrows pointed out to the students that a polluted river is very hard to clean. She told the students harmful chemicals still are in the water.

This is the second year that science discovery classes have been held at the elementary school. Last year, the eight-week program was paid for by the students, but this year, the project was sponsored by Ecolab in Martinsburg, Pleasant View Elementary School Principal Nicole Fox said.

About 50 students signed up for the after-school program, Fox said.

Burrows said she enjoys volunteering for the science discovery program.

"Educating the students is the key to pollution-free water," Burrows said.

Austin Buck, 8, said he learned something from Burrows.

"She taught us how to keep a very important river clean," the second-grader said.

The Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council includes 15 counties in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, said Charlotte Norris, the fund development manager who secured funding for the project from Ecolab.

"Caring for the environment is one of the foundations of the Girl Scouts," Norris said.

The science discovery program gives an opportunity for girls to excel in science, math and technology, she said.

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