Usually when someone thinks of a dock, they think of a place where you tie up a boat or cast a fishing line. But in 2007, the 8th graders in Larry McKeehan’s science classes at Quilcene Middle School learned to view docks differently, thanks to a science program called the Northern Hood Canal Dock Monitoring Project or fondly known as the “Docks Project.”
In the Docks Project, middle school students learned about what goes on underneath the docks in our community by studying water quality, plankton and marine invertebrates. Students did research and experiments about marine water quality and factors contributing to the recurring low dissolved oxygen events in Hood Canal.
Classroom work complemented dock monitoring in the field so students could participate in investigative science, increasing their understanding of water quality in relation to local geology, currents, climate and weather changes, and shoreline land use. During dock monitoring, they looked for invasive species like tunicates and become aware of the threat they pose to nearshore habitats in the Puget Sound area.
The project was done in partnership with the Port of Port Townsend, Jefferson County Soil Conservation District, Jefferson County Health Department and the Hood Canal Dissolved Oxygen Program.
By Judy D’Amore, educator for the project
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