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By Alexandra Johnson
Behind the brick buildings and amidst the uproar of afternoon traffic, the Arcade Creek continues to serve a unique purpose. For nearly a decade now, the Arcade Creek has been the center of a year-round science project for the International Baccalaureate students at Mira Loma High School. The Arcade Creek Project is comprised of eleven distinct studies, which work collaboratively to assess the overall health of the riparian ecosystem and spread the message of environmental preservation. Over 250 students are part of the Arcade Creek Project this year.
Unlike typical school projects, the Arcade Creek Project provides students with an opportunity to study science curriculum through a tactile, hands-on approach. On any given day, countless students can be spotted venturing out towards the urban creek. Students alone are responsible for the extraction of samples, collection of data through observation, and restoration of the creek. All samples and observations are further analyzed during habitual meetings in the Creek Room of our high school.
“I enjoy studying the Arcade Creek because it allows me to take what I learn in the classroom and compare it to what I see in nature. Things like keystone species, invasive species, and seed dispersal mechanisms are a lot easier to comprehend when you see them with your own eyes.” –Marisa Galvez, Senior Restoration Manager
To ensure efficiency and success each year, the Arcade Creek Project has developed a structure encompassing eleven fields of study: Chemistry, Sediments, Biological Assessment, Bio Assay, Outreach, Long Mapping, Habitat, Vertebrates, Restoration, Technology, and Botany. Each group of students specializes in their exclusive study for a period of two scholastic years.
Although the structure remains constant throughout the years, the Arcade Creek Project improves each year. The Biological Assessment study collects and analyzes the aquatic macroinvertebrates found in the Arcade Creek in order to assess its overall health. This year, the Biological Assessment study took samples of the water both before and after the season’s first rain. In their analysis, they hope to determine whether the influx in water and the change in seasonal temperatures will alter the mortality rates of the macroinvertebrates. The Chemistry study is also implementing new techniques in their data collection process. In years past, the study has monitored the levels of Chlorine, Phosphates, Nitrates, and Dissolved Oxygen in the water. At present, the study is incorporating the use of probes to streamline their collection process. The use of these technological advances aims to move the study forward and facilitate the collection of accurate data. Visiting the Arcade Creek each Saturday, the Restoration study has amassed an extensive list of accomplishments this semester. They have removed large portions of Red Sesbania and Himalayan Blackberry, 20 bags of trash, 30 bags of recyclables, and even a rusted trampoline.
With first semester drawing to a close, students at Mira Loma High School are gearing up for the second half of this ongoing endeavor. The Arcade Creek Project has and will continue to be an integral part of our school community. To learn more about our efforts, please visit arcadecreekproject.org.