Skip to main content

The Grand River is a source of drinking water, a recreational water body, and the recipient of urban and agricultural wastewater. It is part of the largest watershed in southern Ontario and supports close to one million people.

The Aquatic Science Outreach Network for the Grand (AquaSONG) is an NSERC-funded program coordinated by Wilfrid Laurier University and the Centre for Cold Regions and Water Science. The primary purpose of this field trip is to inform and educate local high school students on the fragility of this local water body, encourage creative collaboration in a laboratory setting, teach basic field sampling techniques, and demonstrate methods of analysis. The experience is centred around the concepts of wastewater treatment and analysis, and freshwater aquatic biology.

Information for Teachers: Advance Preparation

The following information can be used by grade 10 and 11 high school teachers to plan for this experience.

For more information, or to participate in this project, contact Gena Braun.

Field Trip Activities and Registration

During this full-day field trip, each participating high school group will either collect and analyze water and invertebrate samples or devise and test novel water filters. Field trips take place in the spring (April through June) and fall (September through November) each year with the specific activities depending on the time of year, weather, and preference of the participating class. Early spring and late fall sessions include filter building, invertebrate microscopy, an aquatic research facility tour, and laboratory analysis using hands on and automated techniques. Weather permitting, late spring and early fall sessions include water and invertebrate field sampling, invertebrate microscopy, an aquatic research facility tour, and laboratory analysis using hands on and automated techniques.

Registration for the spring session opens on the first Monday in January and closes on the first Friday in February. Registration for the fall session opens on the last Monday in June and closes on first Friday in September.

Health, Safety, Attire and Permissions

The field sampling experience will occur outside near a body of water. There are several inherent hazards:

  • Students will enter the water to a depth of roughly six to eight inches (15-20 cm). This presents a very low hazard under normal circumstances; however, both parents and students must be made aware of the risks.
  • Weather is unpredictable and may include rain, hot sun, or cold temperatures. Students must dress appropriately. Long pants and hats are strongly recommended. Closed toed shoes are required in the lab and strongly recommended in the field. Any field gear required for water sampling (waders, rubber boots) will be provided by Laurier.
  • Students must bring their own drinking water.
  • Uneven ground, insects, and plants all create hazards. If there are any special needs or concerns (mobility issues, allergies), please inform the technician (Gena Braun) before the field trip so that accommodations can be made if possible.

The high school must provide an appropriate permission form to parents/guardians indicating the hazards that may be encountered on this field trip.

Background Knowledge

The field and lab experience will include instruction in field and laboratory methods, but a basic understanding of some concepts is recommended and will improve the student experience. Some suggested background knowledge is as follows:

  • Chemistry/Biology: Understanding of the basic model of an atom (energy levels and atomic spectra).
  • Current issues in water treatment and contamination.
  • A basic understanding of aquatic invertebrates, habitats, and lifecycles.

Suggested Resources

Student Behaviour Expectations

A positive and safe experience can only be obtained if all participants adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Follow the directions of the technician/teacher at all times.
  • Report any concerns or damage to equipment to the technician immediately.
  • Act in a safe and respectful manner. Any rowdy or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated in the field or the lab. Any student or group of students that does not behave appropriately may not be permitted to participate in the remainder of the field trip.

Gena Braun, Research Instrumentation Technician; AquaSONG Coordinator

T: 519.496.9532