*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.
Silt is a fine sediment that collects on the bottoms of rivers, streams and lakes. The natural process of the decay of organisms into the water can lead to the production of silt at the bottom of a lake. Silt can be a rich source of nutrients for fish and bottom dwellers like crayfish. However, it can also be introduced by unnatural processes. One problem for rivers, lakes and streams is the buildup of excess fine sediment introduced by industry. Because it often contains harmful chemicals it can turn a beautiful clear lake into a brown, contaminated, sludge-filled pond. Silt can be introduced into streams and lakes by mining, agriculture, other industries, and sewage. Test an aquatic environment for the presence of silt. Is it above or below normal levels? Can you test upstream and downstream of a potential industrial site? Do the types of organisms you find change in areas with an excess silty bottom? Use a water test kit to test for the presence of contaminants. Are the contaminants enriched in silty lakes compared to clear lakes? Study the silt under a microscope; is the silt layer enriched with micro-organisms? (WMC, 2006; NPS, 2006; EPA, 2006)
The Ask an Expert Forum is intended to be a place where students can go to find answers to science questions that they have been unable to find using other resources. If you have specific questions about your science fair project or science fair, our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.
If you like this project, you might enjoy exploring these related careers:
Environmental Compliance Inspector
Our environment on planet Earth is made up of the air, water, and land. Environmental compliance inspectors work to protect and preserve our environment and the public by making sure communities, individuals, businesses, and state and local governments are in compliance with pollution laws and regulations.
Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist
Ever wondered what wild animals do all day, where a certain species lives, or how to make sure a species doesn't go extinct? Zoologists and wildlife biologists tackle all these questions. They study the behaviors and habitats of wild animals, while also working to maintain healthy populations, both in the wild and in captivity.
Industrial Health & Safety Engineer
Think of all the jobs in the world that involve machinery, chemicals, toxins, radiation, loud noise, or travel to places above or below Earth's surface—all of these jobs carry an element of risk to the workers. Industrial health and safety engineers work to minimize this risk. They inspect work sites and help workers and companies understand and comply with safety laws. They use their knowledge of mechanical processes, chemistry, and human psychology and performance to anticipate hazardous conditions. Protecting workers requires excellent communication skills and a strong sense of responsibility.
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.
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