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Monday, September 28, 2009

South Seneca on the Lake!

Thursday, September 24th - Fifth grade science enrichment students from South Seneca Central School were aboard the M/V Haendel for an afternoon of ecology on Cayuga Lake. Bill Foster was the lead instructor. There were four learning stations. Each one designed to help students understand the importance of monitoring changes and processes in the lake.

In the Pilot House of the boat, Captain Dave helped students to visually monitor lake conditions and position. We were located N 42 degrees 32.935 minutes latitude and W 76 degrees 35.177 minutes longitude. The air temperature was 70 degrees F and it was sunny. There were small waves on the lake. It was pretty calm. There weren’t many other boats out. They use GPS for water depth and precise latitude and longitude.

We used Secchi disks to see how deep the light penetrates the water. We lowered the black and white disks into the water on a rope one meter at a time and watched to see how far down you could still make it out. We could see it for about 4 to 4.5 meters. This is important because plants need light to grow.

At the plankton viewing stations, Caroline helped us use microscopes to look at the tiny zooplankton and phytoplankton that we caught in the plankton net. This was very cool! We found anabaena, asterionella naulpius, microcystis, amphipod, keratella, and water shrimp. The zooplankton looked like mini-monsters. The phytoplankton produces oxygen. Plankton is the base of every food chain in the lake.

With Mark, we collected water samples in a "mouse trap" (Van Dorne tube) from different depths. It was cool to see the way this gadget worked. We checked each sample for pH and temperature. We tested how deep the light can go with our Secchi disks and the light only penetrated about 12 to 15 feet, so after that the water got colder. We colored some of the colder water from a deep sample blue and put it in a long tube with water from closer to the surface. The cold water sank to the bottom of the tube. Heavier things sink, so we knew that the cold water is heavier than the warmer water.

This trip was awesome! It was fun to be out on the lake and we learned a lot about how light, temperature, and living things in the lake are connected.

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