FLOW Field Trip from a Student's Point of View
By Jason Pham

Editors Note: Warner Middle School Science Teacher Travis Garwaick is a regular participant in FLOW Field Trips. After visitng the Bolsa Chica on February 21, he tasked his 37 students with writing about their experiences at the Bolsa Chica with Citizen Science. We did not have room for all 37 articles, so Jason Pham’s excellent piece was chosen for inclusion in this issue. Photos from the Field Trip are by Travis Garwick.

FLOW Field TripTravis Garwick's Warner Middle School
Science Class learn about collecting
phytoplankton. Photo by Travis Garwick.
What is Citizen Science?
Citizen science is the process of collecting and analyzing data that relates to the natural world by members of the general public. People volunteer to collect data from all over the world on whatever they want. For example, some people might want to collect data about the ocean, or maybe a wetland like Bolsa Chica wetlands. The data then goes to professional scientists for examination, or the volunteers can examine the data themselves and then send the results to the professionals.

Why is it important for youth to participate in citizen science?
There are many reasons for youth to participate in citizen science. One major reason why youth should do citizen science is that it builds knowledge. Citizen science allows students to expand their knowledge about the world. Citizen science teaches the youth about testing for certain chemicals in the water, how to efficiently collect data, and how to cooperate with others to reach a certain goal. Most of all, citizen science allows the youth to experience the feeling of being a professional, collecting and analyzing data, which can spark the interests of many students all around the world.

My Personal Experiences at Bolsa Chica Wetlands?
Once I arrived at the first stop of the field trip, I was amazed. There were so many animals around, and other kinds of organisms as well, like the pickleweed. I was in one of two groups, and my group took a tour around part of the wetland. I got to see many different kinds of birds that I have never seen before, and I even saw an oil pump in the distance. Also, I was able to walk on a cool wooden bridge to observe the birds in the water. I also saw a bird dive underwater to catch prey. I proceeded to go back on the bridge, and catch plankton using a plankton net. After that, my class and I went to our next stop. We were separated into three groups, and my group went to go do transects on the beach. After that was finished, I went to go test water for nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and phosphate. Then, I went inside to look at a sample of water under the microscope on medium power. My sample of water was sea water. I found many kinds of organisms in the water, all of which I have never seen before.

FLOW Field TripTravis Garwick's Warner Middle School
Science Class learns about water chemistry.
Photo by Travis Garwick.
Why is it important to monitor and collect data about the environment?
One reason is that monitoring and collecting data about the environment allows us to learn about the environment, and how to keep the environment healthy. We are able to find and solve problems that may arise in the future, and keeping the environment healthy can keep us healthy as well. Monitoring and collecting data also keeps us informed about the environment.

How does environmental science impact our lives?
Environmental science teaches people how to contribute to learning about the world, and teaches people how to cooperate with each other to reach a common goal, which is vital to being successful in this world. Environmental science also opens up many doors to new possibilities for students. Environmental science can inspire a child to follow a career path related to science, and can also help said child to accomplish that goal. Also, environmental science allows students and adults alike to do things that they have never done before, like testing water for chemicals like nitrite, or even collecting plankton to examine under a microscope. Environmental science has the possibility to change a person’s life entirely.