June 19 – High School Students Complete Unique Water Quality Research Project

San Diego Coastkeeper shares insightful research project results on its website

SAN DIEGO, June 19, 2014- This week, a High Tech High eleventh grade class began publishing the results from its unique oceanic research project that uncovered water quality issues in San Diego and explored the public’s general knowledge of these issues. With the help of San Diego Coastkeeper, the students researched how different pollutants negatively affect the environment, conducted a survey of the general public and collected and tested water from six locations in San Diego. The research results from the project can be found in a blog series on Coastkeeper’s website that is publishing this week.

For their “Oceans Away Project,” High Tech High teachers Tom Fehrenbacher and Heather Gastil organized more than 50 students into groups, each to explore different water pollution topics (bacteria, cigarettes, fertilizers, heavy metals, plastics and prescription medications).

Through the partnership with Coastkeeper, the students collected and tested their water samples from Ocean Beach Pier, Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Mission Bay Bonita Cove, Mission Bay at Tecolote Creek, La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Children’s Pool at San Diego Coastkeeper’s lab.

Using the information that they had gathered from the research and water testing phases, the students created a survey to learn about the public’s awareness of pollution’s impact on the environment. The students conducted the survey with over 1,100 people in San Diego County.

When comparing the data to the survey results, organizers found the information to be quite surprising:

  • 17 percent and 16 percent of San Diegans surveyed believed Ocean Beach Dog Beach and La Jolla Children’s Pool, respectively, to be the most polluted of the six sites tested.
  • La Jolla Children’s Pool showed very low levels of bacteria overall.
  • Mission Bay at Tecolote Creek, a common place for recreational activities including windsurfing, is the location with the consistently highest bacteria levels.

Organizers also noted 45 percent of people surveyed believed that education is the best way to resolve the water quality issues in San Diego.

“In order to take care of our environment for the future, we have to teach the next generation how to do so,” said Ben Staley, High Tech High eleventh grade student. “I am happy that others appreciate the gravity of the crisis and are willing to participate in a solution.”

In addition to posting their findings on Coastkeeper’s website, students presented their results at community events in San Diego.

Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s bays, beaches, watersheds and ocean for the people and wildlife that depend on them. They balance community outreach, education, and advocacy to promote stewardship of clean water and a healthy coastal ecosystem. For more information, visit San Diego Coastkeeper online at https://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High Charter School, often referred to as High Tech High (HTH), opened in 2000, is a public charter high school in San Diego, California that focuses on project based learning. The school is now one of several schools operated under the High Tech High charter schools umbrella organization. For more information, visit High Tech High online at http://www.hightechhigh.org.