Water Quality Monitoring in Tutuila: A Workshop for Educators

On March 9th, in collaboration with the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council, the NOAA OceanWatch – Central Pacific held a 1-day water quality monitoring workshop for educators in Pago Pago, American Samoa (AS). The event was attended by over 40 teachers and college instructors from around Tutuila, and served as an opportunity for encouraging local educators to involve their students and their communities in active “citizen science” efforts for better understanding and protecting their islands’ vital fresh water resources. The workshop followed the same approach of the Malama Ke Ahupua’a program in which high school students conducted hands-on field-based research along a stream to understand how and why its water quality changed from its origin in the mountains and until reaching the ocean. During this workshop, teachers learned about the origin and hydrological structure of Tutuila’s fresh water resources, and also learned about the various measures and components required for effective water quality monitoring. Following a demonstration on the use of water quality testing kits, the teachers worked in teams in order to identify research hypotheses related to the water quality of Pago Pago Bay, and subsequently identified potential sampling sites to help them investigate these. With the support of the AS Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources and the AS Department of Public Safety – Enforcement Division, the participants traveled to their proposed sampling sites around Pago Pago Bay and collect water samples for subsequent analysis. Towards the end of the workshop, the various groups analyzed the samples they collected with specialized monitoring kits. After collating all the results, the participants learned about the overall dynamics, circulation patterns and potential water quality hazards and susceptibility of Pago Pago Bay, and also discussed numerous potential pedagogical opportunities for implementing a similar study approach with their own students. At the end of the workshop, each participant received background materials as well as a water quality monitoring kit for using at their respective schools.

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