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A team from Northern Kentucky University and the Foundation for Ohio River Education has developed and released a mobile application called WaterQuality that enables scientists, citizens, teachers and students to efficiently log water quality data from rivers, lakes and streams.
The app, which is available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices, allows users to gain understanding about key parameters used to measure the health of waterways. An updated version of the app is scheduled for release this week. It will allow users to share data by export it from the app to an Excel-compatible format.
“We are excited that this mobile technology can be used by scientists and students alike to learn about and monitor rivers, lakes and streams across our region,” said Dr. Steve Kerlin, director of the NKU Center for Environmental Education.
NKU reported that local school teachers were excited about the app as well.
“The WaterQuality app is an easy and accessible tool for anyone eager to learn how to measure water quality,” said Beth Schuck, a science teacher at Covington Catholic High School. “There is no greater method of learning than by doing. My high school students were thrilled with the ability to record the findings instantly, and they gained confidence by being able to access information about what they were investigating on the spot. I highly recommend that educators, outdoor enthusiasts or anyone interested in environmental activism give it a try.”
The excitement extends beyond Northern Kentucky. “Wow!,” said Mary Karius of Hennepin County Environmental Services in Minneapolis. “Totally inspirational. I can see us using this for our school monitoring program.”
The app allows users to create a profile for their monitoring site and to easily log data from chemical and bacterial monitoring. It includes colorful charts and illustrations that define commonly measured water quality parameters and healthy ranges for each. It also features a digital field guide for identifying aquatic macroinvertebrates and a Pollution Tolerance Index calculator.
The app can be purchased for $4.99. The majority of the revenue from app sales goes directly back into local water education programs and updates to the app.
The WaterQuality app is being used locally in K-12 outdoor field trips, college-level science courses and science teacher professional development. Citizen science watershed watch groups, scientists and governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency have also expressed interest in the app.
NKU students were directly involved in the development of the software and helped pilot test the app. The core student development team included Aaron Corsi, Jason Daniels and Risha Golden from the NKU Center for Applied Informatics; Alexus Rice from NKU biological sciences; and Rosie Santos from the Center for Environmental Education.
Initial funding for the creation and pilot testing of the first version of the app came from an NKU College of Education and Human Service mini-grant. Additional funds came from the Center for Environmental Education, revenue from the sale of the app and other grants.