Monday, October 03, 2011

Water quality monitoring workshop for CUGE

I had the opportunity to conduct an inaugural water quality monitoring (WQM) workshop for CUGE (Centre for urban greenery and ecology). The participants were mostly Nparks staff. Before this, I had only worked with MOE teachers and students in my WQM courses.

It was indeed an eye opener. With their outdoor experience, my field trip became a non-issue. No complaints about the mozzies, the mud or the weather.

In fact, I dare say this field trip to Ngee Ann Stream was my most challenging. A huge tree has fallen over the path I normally took my participants. There was no clear path through it or around it. Fortunately, a hardy participant (L) came forward to blaze a trail through the fallen tree while I was wondering whether the rest were able to handle such bashing through. Reminding myself these were Nparks staff, everyone came through without a scratch despite the big ants scrambling all over the branches in protest of our intrusion. A few other “garang” types helped to clear the trail as L and I took the lead in our trailblazing.

Because of the wet weather earlier in the day, the canal was flooded. Usually a convenient way to cover ground, the canal became out of bounds. Since these guys and ladies were as good as I thought they were, I decided to do another round of bashing through a patch of tall grasses. Since these were only grasses (not trees or shrubs), I used my handy walking stick to sweep the blockage aside. Problem solved.

Though most of the participants have no chemistry background, they were thrilled with trying out the water testing kits back in our classroom. Designed for field work and hence simple to operate, most participants took an instant familiarity with the kits’ usage. In fact, they were more than enthusiastic to stay after 5p.m. to finish their water testing with the kits. It is always a pleasure to observe students with a passion to learn and experiment.

Figure: My favourite monitoring station along Ngee Ann Stream. A good shady spot for the participants to rest after the "gruelling" hike through tall grasses and steep slopes. Notice the tall grasses in middle - we had to bash through those after this station.

Figure: This canal is normally dry with only a small flow in the centre. On this day, an earlier rain has made the canal impassable. Even the participant has to collect a water sample on the steps. Not for school students.

Figure: Using water testing kits back in the classroom

Figure: Participants putting up their water quality data for all to see and compare.

Figure: Bug hunting and identification at Chinese Garden

Figure: We had the rare chance of checking out what Chinese Garden has implemented its admirable efforts to go green. This is a phytoremediation project to treat and reuse grey water from a toilet's sinks.

Update: Here is the link for a write-up of the workshop on CUGE' website > 04 Oct 2011 - A Fun and Enriching Hands-on Experience Sampling and Testing Water