Earth Day Around Campus (By Dr. Dennis Sheeter, Science Department Chair)

At St. Michael’s, we think globally and act locally. On Wednesday this week, students listened to a lecture from EDIFY speaker, Dr. Kim Stanley Robinson, highly-acclaimed author and environmental speaker. Robinson is one of the most well-known and respected science fiction writers in the world and was named a Time magazine “Hero of the Environment.” Dr. Robinson spoke to the entire student body. Interestingly, he spoke to the students without any visuals - no video, PowerPoint, or special props, and totally captivated the audience,  

Dr. Robinson's talk was compelling in that it addressed climate change and global warming not only from a technological and scientific perspective, but also from a socio-political perspective. His theses sparked lively commentary and debate in the Q & A that followed. 

In addition, students from two of our science courses were involved with inquiry projects related to water quality.
Chemical pollution and bacteria contamination represent two of the biggest concerns to public water quality. High concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) in water, such as E. coli and enterococcus, can cause health risks to people who swim in the water or consume it. Since our school and many of our families live near and play in Barton Creek, St. Michael's students focused their research on the Barton Creek watershed water quality, with an emphasis at Lost Creek Bridge.
Honors Research Initiative students, a partnership course with UT, wrapped up their FIB sampling from Lost Creek. For the past two years, students of HRI have been sampling the water quality along Barton Creek.   
FIB identify high risk areas for fecal contamination, which can lead to water-borne illnesses. To address this problem, HRI students sampled water along the upper Barton Creek watershed. Although many of the locations we studied had low levels of FIB, there were a few locations that had elevated levels of bacteria. With data analysis still pending, be sure to catch their final presentation May 3, at 2:50 in Room 407!

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