Ridgway 3rd Graders Learn about pH, UWP gets a site visit from River Watch staff

River Watch this month was busy for the UWP and our volunteers.  We’d like to thank Dudely and Sharon Case for collecting River Watch samples at three of our four sites.  Thank you!

At our site in the Town of Ridgway, the UWP meets with Ms. Cascade’s and Mr. Carr’s 3rd Grade classes to collect River Watch samples.  We also take this opportunity to learn about our watershed through a hands on activity.  This month we tested the pH of river samples, learned about the differences between an acid and a base, and discussed what the pH of a river tells us about river health.

Student's test the pH of lemon juice and water.
Ridgway 3rd Graders testing the pH of different liquids using a purple pH indicator which turns red in the presence of an acid and blue in the presence of a base.

Using a pH indicator dye made from red cabbage leaves, students tested the pH of: lemon juice, Red Mountain stream water, Uncompahgre river water from Ridgway Town, Uncompahgre Water from below the Ridgway Reservoir, water with baking soda, and spring water from the Grand Canyon (a staff member visited the canyon the week before).  The color of the dye indicated if it was basic or acidic: red for acidic, blue for basic, purple for neutral.  The students then placed their samples along the pH scale from most acidic (lemon juice, about 2), to the most basic (baking soda, about 9).  Most waters range in pH between 6.5 to 8.5.  In the Uncompahgre river segment we’ve monitored for River Watch, pH ranges from about a 3.2 in Red Mountain Creek to about 8.4 below the Ridgway Reservoir.

During our time with the Ridgway 3rd Graders, we were joined by Barb Horn of River Watch.  River Watch staff members make regular visits to River Watch sites, to ensure samples are being collected and tested properly.  Tuesday was our annual site visit/evaluation.  After observing our river sampling methods and testing us on our titration techniques Barb let us know we were doing well.  Yeah!  We can’t wait until River Watch next month.