Posts Tagged ‘water quality’

Nothing momentous to report, just a snapshot of my students working in the lab this afternoon.  No broken glassware, no spill, no disasters (that I’m aware of, anyway.)  Hopefully the results won’t be too wacky either!

The water they are analyzing for total coliforms and fecal coliforms comes from a site near the mouth of Martin Slough in Eureka.  The results will be used by the Capstone Project class (seniors graduating in the spring, working on their final project) to design a restoration that will include a wastewater treatment system for agricultural runoff on the site.  So it’s important that the Water Quality class pass good quality results to the Capstone Project students.


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I’m teaching two classes this semester: Environmental Impact Assessment, primarily for seniors; and Water Quality and Environmental Health, for second- and third-year students.  The water quality class is split up into two groups for lab purposes.  We took advantage of the unseasonably beautiful weather this past week to go do some field work along Jolly Giant Creek in Arcata.  That’s the kind of afternoon that reminds me why it’s so much fun to be an environmental engineer.

Both classes are really fun subjects for me.  I have a lot of good material to work from, and I’m trying to hone my teaching skills.  I’ve been reading Teaching Engineering, by Philip Wankat and Frank Oreovicz, a classic and solid reference on the topic.  My goal is to rely less on lectures and raise the quality of those lectures.  I need to use more diverse ways of imparting the course materials.

I’ve also been buffing up on my skills with the new information technologies we now have to assist with teaching, and particularly with Moodle, the chosen course management system at HSU.   The tool is interesting but I’m not certain it actually saves time, it just makes things more transparent.  Or not.

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2010 was a difficult year for most people I know, and for me personally.  I was sick, our car was stolen right out of our driveway, I lost a beloved cat to illness,  I had unexpected (and unentertaining) expenses, work has been very slow, etc.  I stopped writing on my blog early in the year, and we might as well count 2010 as a write-off in terms of blogging.  Even on my more personal journal I hardly wrote anything except to share a few links.  So here’s to hoping 2011 is better for all of us, especially all my unemployed or underemployed friends.

A couple of good things did happen, particularly my starting to teach at Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering Department again.  I taught a Solid Waste Management class in the fall, and I was lucky to have a very good group; I really loved my students.  The days I was teaching became the days I most looked forward to in the week.  (But I’ll tell you, teaching brings in very little money for the amount of work it requires.)

Still, I enjoy it and it provides for diversity of income.  I was offered two classes for the spring semester, and I lucked out again by being offered two of my favourite topics.  I will be teaching an Environmental Impact Assessment class and a Water Quality and Environmental Health class, both of which I am very familiar with.  It’s going to be a great big load of work, but what great subjects!  I thought I would take the opportunity to blog about some of the issues we cover because I think they are of general interest.

I’m also going to try to vary my approach to lectures.  I’ve been relying a lot on slides, handouts, prepared lecture notes, etc., but I would like to try more discussion and less “bullet points”.  So I’m revising the notes I’ve used before; the material is still fine, but I want to present it more dynamically.  That said, I will still post the occasional slide presentation for discussion.

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Canoe Journey 2006 - Copyright Sophie Lagacé, 2006

Canoe Journey 2006

Every year since 1993, dozens of Native tribes and First Nations from the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to Washington, gather for the Tribal Canoe Journey. This year, a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council will result in five of the hundred or so canoes participating in the Journey being equipped with water-quality recording equipment.

Not only are the gliding canoes far less disruptive than motor boats when recording water parameters, but this will also provide direct, real-time, real-place data on the waters that are of high concern to Native nations living on, in, and from the Puget Sound.

Every year, a different tribe hosts the Journey’s end.  This year’s Canoe Journey is hosted by the Cowichan First Nation in Duncan, British Columbia.  I was at the arrival and potlatch for the 2006 edition, hosted by the Muckleshoot Tribe; it was a wonderful event.  I was sorry to miss last year’s arrival at Lummi Island but my husband did go.  The 2009 event will be hosted by the Suquamish Tribe and the 2010 by the Makah.  I hope to see these arrival ceremonies!  If you have a chance to see the canoes as the pass a nearby coastal town, seize it; it doesn’t last long and it’s beautiful.

And this year, it even provides data.


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