On May 17th at SEA Lab in Redondo Beach, 30 students from four South Bay high schools participating in the Surfrider Foundation’s Teach and Test Program presented their results that reflect seven months of water quality testing at 13 local beaches. As part of the program, students from Westchester, El Segundo, Redondo and Torrance High, South, collected water samples every other Sunday and analyzed bacteria levels. The SEA Lab presentation and awards ceremony marked the end of the Teach and Test period for 2008-2009.
“Besides Styrofoam, we found a lot of food wrappers in the water,” said Michelle Pena, President of the Redondo Union High School Ecology Club. “These findings show that people are just lazy.”
In addition to trash on the beach, students studied the effects the Ballona Wetlands have on bacterial count reduction. The presentation included a slide show explaining the mechanisms within the wetland that attributed to the degradation of bacteria, which allowed a larger amount of clean water to enter the ocean.
One group of students presented their Teach and Test results in a public forum and interviewed local citizens about the beaches in their neighborhood. They offered solutions to water quality problems such as turning off automatic sprinklers to reduce excess run-off, disposing of cigarettes properly and using natural fertilizers.
Entering its fifth year, the Teach and Test program’s primary goal is to foster future environmental stewardship among students, create community awareness about local water quality, and provide realistic solutions to improve conditions. Surfrider Foundation South Bay Chapter volunteers mentor the students and the beach and provide guidance as they collect water samples. Back in the labs, local high school teachers guide the students through the analysis process. Since the inception of the Teach and Test program, six students have been accepted to science programs at their chosen universities and two current students won LA Science Fair awards. The majority of students will return next year, and are excited to participate with their fellow students and Surfrider volunteers.