Sunday, June 16, 2024

Hands-on science connects youth, community

| May 18, 2024 1:00 AM

COEUR d'ALENE — Students from eight regional schools will participate in the Youth Water Summit on Tuesday at the Kootenai County Fairgrounds.

The program connects students with their watershed in the hope they will help figure out answers to water quality issues in the region, a press release said.

The summit is the culmination of The Confluence Project, a yearlong program pairing scientific experts with high schools across North Idaho. 

Students develop a question related to a real-world water resource issue, conduct research and propose a solution. They present their research projects to the more than 60 volunteer judges. 

TCP connected nearly 300 students with North Idaho’s lakes, streams, mountains and aquifers through on-site studies and classroom work. 

In the fall, students went to a local river and collected bugs to test water quality. In the winter, they visited a local ski hill where they snowshoed to measure snowpack.

Partners from the University of Idaho, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Trout Unlimited, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Panhandle Health, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Basin Commission and IdaH2O teamed up to mentor and assist with hands-on experiences and field data collection. 

“These local students are our future and will be responsible for sustaining our natural resources someday," said Peter Youngblood, an NRCS hydrologist. "Natural sciences are a great way to feed their hungry minds."

At this year’s Youth Water Summit, students will examine subjects such as how stormwater affects river water quality, possible biofilters to clean water, and how PH correlates with water quality. 

The top three teams from each school will be recognized for their work.