Progress Report (2009 – 2010)
Research and Education Activities
Student activities to understand the hydrologic environment and to promote water quality education at UNI were conducted in the fall of 2009 and the spring of 2010. In this initiative, the newly built hydrology laboratory in the Department of Earth Science played a very important role. New student projects were conducted, a new hydrology course was offered and some new pieces of equipment were added to facilitate a variety of field studies. Also, the expansion of our on-campus water monitoring well site is now in full force. Meanwhile, a hydrology website specially designed to showcase our water-related activities is nearing completion. The above activities wouldn’t be successful without the generous support from the National Science Foundation and I appreciate it very much. Brief description of the various activities is given below:
1. Intro to Geology course (870:031): 76 students participated in two 2-hr sessions of hands-on activities dealing with understanding of basic hydrologic concepts. The concepts were developed in a 3 step model, including a) class lectures, b) indoor lab sessions, and c) outdoor activities. The students showed considerable improvement in their understanding of the aquatic systems.
2. Independent Student Projects: Six (6) hydrology field projects were conducted from late June to December of 2009, including five UNI students and one high school science teacher. They collected water and sediment samples from different parts of the Dry Run Creek/Cedar River watershed and analyzed them in the hydrology laboratory. Use of lab space and equipment were carefully coordinated among the users and it worked out well. All expenses for the materials were covered from the NSF fund. Following is a list of the projects:
a) Matt J. Even: Un-degraded farm chemicals and heavy metals in the sediments of Silver Lake, Iowa (undergraduate, Geology B.S.)
b) Molly L Hanson: Water quality impact assessment of Cedar River in northeast Iowa (Undergraduate,
c) Carolyn Strang: Investigating the impact of rainfall on water quality index values within the
d) Yogendra Khadka: Water Quality Index and Heavy Metal Distribution in the Sediments of Bagmati River along the Kathmandu Valley Basin in Nepal (Graduate, Environmental Science)
e) Sujan Rai: Application of chemical tracers to investigate the contribution of baseflow to the Dry Run Creek in Cedar Falls, Iowa (Graduate, Environmental Science)
f) Jacob Donaghy: Episodic influx of nutrients from croplands to watershed in response to flooding (Graduate, Environmental Science)
3. New hydrology course: A new course titled “Field and Laboratory Methods in Hydrology” (870:159) was offered for the first time at UNI from the Department of Earth Science in support of the CCLI grant-funded water quality education initiative. The course is designed for upper division undergraduate and graduate students. Though the need of such a course was always felt in the past, it was never possible to actually offer it until the hydrology lab capability was enhanced through the NSF grant. The course was lab-intensive where students learned sampling protocol, machine calibration, and sample analysis. There were 10 students in the class. They met in fourteen 2-hour sessions of hands-on activities in the lab. The course also included several field trips. It is expected that this new course will become an integral part of our Department’s hydrology curriculum. The students ran four (4) additional hydrology team projects to fulfill their course requirement. All of their sample preparation and analysis were performed in the new hydrology lab. The projects are as follows:
4. Conference presentations with published abstract:
b) Iqbal, M.Z., 2009. Ideas and steps involved in designing a hydrology methods course through a National Science Foundation grant. [abst.] Annual Meeting, Geological Society of America, Portland, OR, October 18-21, Abstracts with program.
c) Iqbal, M.Z., 2009. Post-disaster water quality assessment scheme in a small suburban watershed in the United States. World Water Week, Annual conference organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm, Sweden, August 16-22, Program Abstracts.
5. Other grant activities:
Activities relating to this CCLI grant gave rise to some new ideas of international collaboration as a follow up. Several of our international students who were involved in the CCLI grant brought up the major issue of Baghmati River pollution in Nepal. Upon some preliminary data collection, we found that a collaborative project of the nature of CCLI could considerably broaden the hydrologic knowledge of our students, specially being involved in student exchanges with international partners. Subsequently, a new grant proposal titled “Hydrologic assessment and mapping of pollution hotspots in a highly contaminated river system within the densely populated Kathmandu Valley, Nepal” was submitted to the NSF’s Hydrologic Sciences program. Collaboration was proposed between UNI and Kathmandu University with another Kathmandu based agency named ECCA (Environmental Camps for Conservation Awareness) as the intermediary. The proposal didn’t get funded with the primary reason that the proposal should have been submitted to USAID or similar agencies that fund global projects. I believe that this Nepal proposal would be a great way to expand the current CCLI project. I am working on resubmitting the proposal to another appropriate funding source.
6. Website development:
We have started designing a dedicated website to showcase all the field and laboratories activities related to our water quality education initiative. An undergraduate student with expertise in web designing is helping in this project. This will be an excellent way to disseminate our findings to the general public. Besides, the website will have a link for the public to download real time water quality data from our monitoring well site. The website is expected to be up and running in the fall semester of 2010.
SPRING AND SUMMER OF 2010:
1. Student Activities:
A. Intro to Geology (870:031): 50 students participated in two 2-hr sessions of hands-on activities dealing with understanding of basic hydrologic concepts. The concepts were developed in a 3 step model, including a) class lectures, b) indoor lab sessions, and c) outdoor activities. The students showed considerable improvement in their understanding of the aquatic systems.
B. Environmental Hydrology (870:173): Fourteen students conducted 6-weeks long field projects dealing with diverse environmental issues relating to water. They were divided into 4 teams. Members of each team went to the field together and helped each other in their overall understanding of the hydrologic system. At the end of the semester, a mini poster conference was arranged in the Department of Earth Science to have these 4 groups of hydrology students present their methods and findings in a poster format. Students and faculty from the Earth Science Dept. as well as the Environmental Science Program were invited to attend the poster session. Three faculty members were assigned as judges to assess these posters upon interactions with the presenters. The judges assigned scores to each poster based on the poster quality and the students’ understanding of the project.
Following are the four projects conducted by these 4 student teams:
i. Investigation of upstream and downstream water quality of the Cedar River in the Cedar Falls – Waterloo area (Team 1)
C. Invertebrate Zoology (840:112): This class is offered from the Dept. of Biology. One of the initiatives taken through this NSF project is integration of physical sciences curriculum with that of life sciences. Dr. Maureen Clayton, Associate Professor of Biology collaborated with me on this aspect of the project. Fourteen biology students participated in my hydrology activities to learn about the basics of ground water as well as surface water and their interactions. It was a 2-hr session conducted at the UNI on-campus monitoring well site where they used hydrologic field equipment to collect water samples and then analyze them on site. They also measured discharge of the Dry Run Creek that runs by the well site. There were interactions among students as well as discussions with faculty. At the end of the session we talked about the data to understand how chemical parameters are linked to the land use activities in the surrounding areas. The students then developed a learning model of their own describing how they had analyzed the data in their mind to understand the field processes. The two given questions were as follows:
i) What have you learned about hydrology through today’s activities?
ii) Critically think about today’s activities focusing on the concepts of stream discharge, turbidity and chemical quality of ground water as well as surface water. How do you think these activities helped you to understand the hydrologic environment around us? Briefly discuss how you perceive the role of water in the environment in light of the above activities.
The student responses to the above questions are now being processed. I expect to get important data from these survey questions on how biology students perceive hydrologic processes in the field compared to earth science students.
D. Environment, Technology, and Society (820:140): This is one of the “Capstone” courses at UNI. All UNI students are required to take 2 hours of a capstone course before graduation. The students must be in their junior or senior year and have completed most of their Liberal Arts requirements. Fifty one (51) students of my two sections of this course in May 2010 were involved in hydrology “hands-on” activities. The primary objective was to see how students from across the campus (90% non-geology/earth science majors) respond to our Water Quality Education initiatives. After the well site activities, they responded to questions about their own learning (refer to C above). I am now in the process of analyzing their responses to make an overall assessment of their learning.
2. Conference presentations with published abstract:
b) Iqbal, M.Z., 2010. The importance of field trips to understand the hydrologic differences between a wetland and a prairie. [abst] North-Central/South-Central combined regional meeting, Geological Society of America, Branson, Missouri, April 11-13, 2010, Abstracts with Programs.
c) Khadka, Y., Iqbal, M.Z. and De Nault K.J., 2010. Water Quality Index and heavy metal distribution in the sediments of Bagmati River along the Kathmandu Valley Basin in Nepal. [abst] North-Central/South-Central combined regional meeting, Geological Society of America, Branson, Missouri, April 11-13, 2010, Abstracts with Programs.
d) Rai, S. and Iqbal, M.Z., 2010.Application of chemical tracers to investigate the contribution of baseflow to the Dry Run Creek in Cedar Falls, Iowa. [abst] North-Central/South-Central combined regional meeting, Geological Society of America, Branson, Missouri, April 11-13, 2010, Abstracts with Programs.
3. Expansion of the Monitoring Well Site: Four pieces of instruments are in the process of being installed at the monitoring well site as a part of this NSF grant. The instruments are 1) YSI 6600 V2 extended deployment probe to measure water quality parameters in the Dry Run Creek (i.e., pH, TDS, Conductivity, DO, Temperature, Turbidity, Chlorophyll, etc.); 2) OTT RLS Radar to measure water level fluctuations in the creek; 3) Hydrolab MS5 Mini-Sonde to continuously measure pH, TDS, Conductivity, DO, Temperature, Turbidity, and Nitrate in a 70 ft deep groundwater well; 4) DL 3000 Data logger to receive all data from the above 3 pieces of equipment and upload them to a remote website for public viewing. All 4 pieces of equipment have been purchased. The university Physical Facilities Planning Department is scheduled to start the site preparation work in early July, including digging tranches for data cable and installing electrical transformer box. The equipment installation project is expected to be completed in September, 2010.
4. Expansion of the Hydrology lab: A Groundwater Flow Simulation Unit (model S11) has been purchased from Armfield Inc. This system will replace our old basic unit. The new system is now being installed and a grad student is helping me develop several exercises relating to this system. This type of flow unit is quite helpful in developing concepts at introductory as well as upper division classes.
5. Student Fellowships: Two undergraduate students have been offered summer fellowships to conduct research in hydrology. Lauren Carter, who is majoring in Biology, is working on Water Quality Index of Dry Run Creek over 12 weeks in summer. Cody Meier, majoring in Earth Science, is working on characterization of watershed, wetland, and prairie hydrology and their differences. Each student is receiving $ 3000 plus mileage for the fellowships. These two students were hired on a competitive basis upon receiving applications for the fellowships that were announced in the College of Natural Sciences. They will be required to submit a report plus present their work at the Summer Undergraduate Research Poster session on July 30, 2010 at the UNI campus.
Examples of Activities