Yukon students learn at the lake
High schoolers study how water quality is measured, learn about environmental assessments
About 90 Whitehorse high school students spent a day at the lake this week — but they weren't skipping class.
They were taking part in an event called the "Yukon Envirothon", which draws together grade 10 science, grade 11 biology and grade 12 geography, with different assignments for different grade levels.
Students learned about environmental assessments, and going through the motions of analysing a project's impact on land and water quality.
The artificial scenario involved a proposal to build new cottages at Long Lake in the city. Students were offered two sites and a plan for development, and had to choose one site.
"We're doing a mock study on how to expand the urban containment boundary," said Sana Syed, a Grade 11 student at Vanier Catholic Secondary School.
Water testing on site
Sarah Sternbergh is a hydrogeological engineer who works with Tetra Tech EBA and her job usually involves designing wells and testing water at remote sites.
She guided the students through a water quality test.
"We want to test for things in Yukon like microbiology and some metals.
"We see a lot are arsenic and uranium and we're asking [the students] to compare the results we got today to the Canadian drinking water standards and see if the water would be potable as is, or there would be more treatment," she said.
Students consider soil, water, wildlife
Teacher Mike Gallant of Vanier Secondary says the students will have to make a decision in their reports, based on many factors.
That means considering the cottages' potential impacts on soil, water, First Nations' historical settlements, and local wildlife.
"We're drawing data from both of those sites, comparing both of those sites and then making a proposal that the kids can defend," he said.
Students also heard from Geotechnical Engineer Justin Pigage, one of the experts who advises the City of Whitehorse.
Jesse McCuaig, a Grade 11 student at Vanier, enjoyed the day.
"Actually it's fun, I like to be out here and apply what I am learning in my class to what the experts do in their jobs, in everyday scenarios," he said.