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East Tipp takes in the wonders on the Wabash
East Tipp takes in the wonders on the Wabash

Teachers at East Tipp Middle School challenged students to design a filtration system for the West Lafayette wastewater treatment plant's combined sewer overflows. The project gained momentum when students put on life vests and grabbed paddles to raft down the Wabash River.

The Tippecanoe County Partnership for Water Quality made the journey from Tapawingo Park to Fort Ouiatenon possible. The trip also launched a class ecology unit developed by Purdue's Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Teacher Jennifer Dorsch says the students made a couple stops to complete different activities to help determine the health of the river. "We tested pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature and transparency at one location and learned about the types of fish found in the Wabash at another location."

Student Sarah Ansorge thought the trip was fun. "I was surprised that the Wabash isn't as dirty as I thought."

"I was surprised at how many fish species live in the Wabash River," says classmate Rodrigo Samano.

Dorsch hopes the floating classroom experience instills a sense of stewardship in protecting our natural resources. "I hope students care more about the river and what goes into it, now that they've had the opportunity to experience it firsthand."