Skip to content

Water quality testing in Costa Rica

Grantee: Abriendo Mentes – Costa Rica

Project Title:Eight Week Ecology Science Unit

Grant Type: ecoSolution

Description:  

Abriendo Mentes, a nonprofit in rural Costa Rica, purchased ecological materials for an eight-week lesson on water with the help of a Captain Planet grant. The organization focuses on teaching English to youth and adults to improve their chances of finding fulfilling work in an area with high unemployment. Eleven fifth- and sixth- graders analyzed water samples from local sources and gained hands-on experience with water filtration and sanitation.

The project featured deep engagement with the local community. As part of the project, community trash cans were purchased, painted by the students, and placed in the town plaza. The students hoped to reduce the amount of trash dumped in the town, much of which ends up contaminating the Pacific Ocean and nearby rivers. Abriendo Mentes was able to partner with Hotel Bahia del Sol, a local hotel. Victoria Bonila, the general manager, says, “As a local business, we are delighted to work together with Abriendo Mentes to protect the environment and keep our community and local beaches pristine for all to enjoy.”

Abriendo Mentes is optimistic about the future. The bountiful natural resources nearby make the relevance of environmental science clear to the students. They plan to continue to partner with Bahia del Sol through monthly beach and town clean-ups. They can reuse the curriculum and manual developed for the unit for years to come.

Thanks to a grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, the Ouray and Ridgway schools were able to purchase two new water quality testing kits. Ever cognizant of the utility of water in rural Colorado, the students were able to learn about water quality. They collected data for seven different sites along the Uncompahgre River and learned how to use online databases of water quality data to compare their data with nearby sampling sites.

Through the hands-on experiments done on site the students gained an understanding of the parameters being tested, including pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, acidity and alkalinity. By comparing different streams within the watershed as well as streams outside the water shed the students were able to explain the differences data based on geology and human disturbances.

This not only allowed the students to gain an understanding of the science of water, but also gave them a jumping off point to discuss environmental issues particular to their watershed and what they can do to improve their local environment. These environmental stewards graphed the data using Microsoft Excel, wrote a report on their experience, proposed theories for the differences in water quality at different sites, and learned how this data is used to monitor local water quality.

The project is eminently sustainable. There are two water quality kits for the only two schools in the county. The schools plan to use them over the next five years, sharing as needed.

Continuous impact/Community engagement: 

The project is eminently sustainable. There are two water quality kits for the only two schools in the county. The schools plan to use them over the next five years, sharing as needed.