This week, the NOAA Future Watershed Stewards visited the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center to learn about freshwater mussels. This program, in partnership with Concilio, is designed to engage high school students in hands-on activities to grow their knowledge of urban watershed issues and encourage them to explore the ways they can become protectors of our water sources.
Students collected water samples from the Schuylkill River taken right outside of our Center and conducted chemistry tests on the samples to gain understanding of ways water quality can be assessed. The students also used the water samples to look for zooplankton, which are an important food source for freshwater mussels and form the basis of the food chain in river ecosystems.
Lastly, they learned what freshwater mussels are, how they grow, and what positive impacts they can have on our local streams and rivers. Students visited the FWW Mussel Hatchery and talked to PWD Senior Scientist about how freshwater mussels can be used to clean our waterways over time. They learned about the fascinating life cycle of the freshwater mussel and how they are propagated in the lab.
The following day, students met Fairmount Water Works Staff at the Strawberry Mansion Reservoir at the Discovery Center, which serves as a grow out site for the mussels once they are too big to be kept in the lab. As part of an ongoing freshwater mussel research project, the students measured their growth and later in the day began to prepare for their culminating Stewardship Project. More on this to come!
This program is funded by The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and supported by the U.S. Department of Education.