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This activity is actually a series of labs/field trip exercises I ran with my advanced geochemistry class a year ago. For this class, we went on a number of field trips to sample a number of local waters, including, High Cliff State Park, where the Niagran Escarpment is present, a local wetland reserve, Lake Winnebago, the Fox River (downstream from Lake Winnebago), and finally a nearby cave in the dolostone of the Niagran Escarpment. We tested these waters for a few relatively straightforward properties: hardness, alkalinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen. In the future I am going to expand these analyses to include analysis on our AA, and possibly sending samples away for ICP analysis on a suite of elements. These sampling trips followed our course materials looking at the thermodynamics of mineral solubility and the interaction of water with the atmosphere. Students were able to easily recognize how these waters were different, and were able to make reasonable hypotheses to explain these differences. Furthermore, because this was the first time I had sampled these waters (this was in my first year), I didn't know the answer, so students were themselves forced to determine whether their results were reasonable or not. As an additional note, I should credit Tony Hoch, my predecessor here at LU. Much of the material I used in these labs evolved from labs he had run while at LU.
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