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Student Lead Science: Monitoring Coyote Creek

Recently Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful partnered with the students of Yerba Buena High School to conduct a series of water quality tests on the section of Coyote Creek nearest to their school. As part of that project their teacher Dr. Rosemarie Calma had them write about their experience. Below we have the write up of Kari, Victoria, Vinh, Lesli, Yazmine, and Marco.

Recently people are starting to venture out into the world again as masks and vaccines are more widely used. They can leave their house more often to explore the wonderful things outside. Preserving the wonders of the world by learning more about the environment is important.

Students doing water quality tests.
Students doing water quality tests.

Our group consisting of Kari, Victoria, Vinh, Lesli, Yazmine, and Marco, got the chance to discover more about the nearby environment of Coyote Creek, right behind the school.

This technical river is located in Santa Clara County and runs through Morgan Hill, Gilroy, downtown San Jose, and into San Francisco Bay. It needs to be carefully maintained as it is a resource for plants and animals. We went into this project with the objective of monitoring the water quality of Coyote Creek.

From left to right: Test supplies, Turbidity test, Student with pipette.

The first thing we tested was dissolved oxygen and pH using Wide Range TesTab tablets. After conducting three trials, we concluded that the dissolved oxygen was a level of 4 parts per million (ppm) and the pH had an average level of 7.3 (within the Neutral type). After doing that, we began testing the salinity level of the water by using a refractometer. The salinity average was 1 part per thousand (ppt). Thankfully we were familiar with this test due to past lab experience.

Dissolved Oxygen Test
Dissolved Oxygen Test
pH procedure
pH Test

We preformed and recorded other observations, such as the percent of dissolved oxygen saturation at 40% [out of 100% for very good water oxygenation, so this number is a low quality indicator] and the turbidity [clarity of the water] at 0 JTU [Jackson Turbidity Units, where a low number indicates clarity].

The overall lab was intriguing as we got to see the water change colors from the test tablets and use our prior knowledge to contribute to science. The location of the water sample is approximately located at 37°19'15.6"N 121°51'07.9"W and was provided to us by Mr. Cook, which helped us accomplish our water monitoring.

Photos of the collection site at Coyote Creek.

This project has made it possible for us to try new things and explore more of the world around us. By testing and collecting the important information that we needed, we can begin researching and acting on ways to help Coyote Creek.

Made possible by donations by City of San Jose ESD and EarthEcho.

Written by Kari, Victoria, Vinh, Lesli, Yazmine, and Marco of YBHS

Edited by Colter Cook

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