Step 3: Observe, Collect Data & Evaluate Results

Did the data I collected prove or disprove my hypothesis?   

We recommend having students keep a science notebook to record their field observations and data points. You should make detailed observations about the study site whenever you visit it. For this module, good things to note would be the presence or absence of vegetation around the stream and the quantity of water in the study area (low water, only storm water present, high water, etc). Including observations about potential stream impacts such as storm drains, new roads, livestock grazing, recently removed vegetation, and obvious polluters such as mine tailings deposits and garbage dumps may help you better explain the data you collect.

Given that you will be using the World Water Monitoring Day test kits, you already know the standard operating procedure and quality assurance of the data you will collect. If you conduct data collection for additional parameters or use a different test, make sure to document and/or follow the standard procedures and quality assurance plan to insure good data. Hint: When you develop your monitoring plan (when and where will you collect data) don’t forget about the information from your “data mining” efforts and keep in mind that many of the parameters fluctuate both daily and/or seasonally. Remember: Water quality data is only as good as the plan and/or methods used to collect it.

Again using the previous example question, once you collect your data, compare the results to aquatic life standards for your parameters (see the previous table in What is Water Quality?) and/or see if you can check the values of some streams in your area that you know support aquatic life. This should lead you toward a conclusion to your hypothesis.

In this short video, Instructor Matt Vincent discusses how to conduct site observations as part of a water monitoring plan using the example of German Gulch Creek west of Butte.

Right-click or ctrl-click this link to download.


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The MSP project is funded by an ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP was developed by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University, with support from other Montana University System Faculty.