*Note: This is an abbreviated Project Idea, without notes to start your background research, a specific list of materials, or a procedure for how to do the experiment. You can identify abbreviated Project Ideas by the asterisk at the end of the title. If you want a Project Idea with full instructions, please pick one without an asterisk.
Many people routinely use fertilizer for crops, gardens, and lawns. What people don't know is that each time they apply fertilizer, the fertilizer seeps through the soil into the water table. This can eventually lead to the contamination of a local water source, like a stream, pond, lake, bay, or ocean. This is an especially big problem for agricultural practices that frequently use large amounts of fertilizer on fields that are connected by irrigation channels. The run-off of fertilizer seeps into the irrigation channels and eventually joins with a river or other body of water. You can do an experiment with sod in a tray to measure the amount of fertilizer run-off. Apply different concentrations of fertilizer in water to sod in a plastic tray. After allowing the sod to soak in the solution, tip the try over a bucket to collect the run-off. You can test for the concentration of nitrogen in the run-off as a test for how much fertilizer collected as run-off. What does this show about the potential for contamination of water sources? What are the potential effects of fertilizer run-off on animals? You can conduct a similar experiment using different concentrations of fertilizer in water to test the effect on aquatic animals, like goldfish, snails or aquatic worms. How are these animals affected? Also try using algae or other aquatic plants. What effect does fertilizer run-off have on them? (USDA ARS, 2005)
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If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Do you enjoy going to the ocean? Do you like examining all of the marine creatures in tide pools? Do you read up on the different kinds of ocean mammals and fish for fun? If this is the case, then you may be the right fit for a career as a marine biologist. Marine biology is the study of ocean aquatic organisms, their behaviors, and their interactions with the environment. Because this field of study is an intersection of zoology, biology, and technology, marine biologists can apply their knowledge in many different ways.
Have you ever noticed that for people with asthma it can sometimes be especially hard to breathe in the middle of a busy city? One reason for this is the exhaust from vehicles. Cars, buses, and motorcycles add pollution to our air, which affects our health. But can pollution impact more than our health? Cutting down trees, or deforestation, can contribute to erosion, which carries off valuable topsoil. But can erosion alter more than the condition of the soil? How does an oil spill harm fish and aquatic plants? How does a population of animals interact with its environment? These are questions that environmental scientists study and try to find answers to. They conduct research or perform investigations to identify and eliminate the sources of pollution or hazards that damage either the environment or human and animal health. Environmental scientists are the stewards of our environment and are committed to keeping it safe for future generations.
Walk by the supermarket's fresh fish counter and you will see a collection of marine ambassadors from around the world. You might see shrimp from Thailand, salmon from Canada, and flounder from the United States of America. Some of the fish is wild, caught by fishermen from the open seas; but these days, a lot of fish and shellfish is farm raised. Aquacultural managers direct operations on farms and fish hatcheries that cultivate ocean and freshwater fish for human consumption, recreation, and research. The field of aquacultural management is an example of biotechnology. It is the intersection of biology, chemistry, and cutting-edge technical equipment.
A summer day at the beach can be very relaxing. The sand is warm and the waves lap gently on the shore. But beneath the water's surface is a world that is teeming with rich plant and animal life. For many of us, it isn't possible to experience this world firsthand. But at a public aquarium, we can take a peek and examine close up the beautiful fish and coral. An aquarist cares for the animal and plant life that you see in those aquarium displays. Aquarists make sure that all of the animals and plants in their displays are well fed and free of disease.
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