Students launch Cahoon Creek ecology study

Students complete the first part of their Cahoon Creek study by collecting soil and water samples. Pictured, from left: Norah Hamil, Jennifer Koomar, Khaled Hamil, Leo Cavalier, Nick LaRosa, Richard Gash and Paul Moody. Photo by Dawn Hamil

To answer the question, “Is the Cahoon Creek polluted with urban runoff and storm sewer drainage?”, a seventh-grade team from the Explorer Club 360, and a ninth-grade team from the Sea Scouts, are collecting bed stream soil and water samples along the course of the creek. Explorer Club 360 will plant seeds in the collected soil and water them with the samples taken from Cahoon Creek. The ninth-graders will do a soil classification study and chemical analysis of the water and soil samples.

After tracing the course of Cahoon Creek on a large scale topographical map, the two crews determined that the creek runs from its mouth at Bay Boat Club through the city of Westlake to the origin or primary headwater in the Metroparks' Bradley Road Reservation of North Olmsted. The students gathered at the mouth of the creek where it flows into Lake Erie for a discussion with Lt. Col. Paul Moody, an associate professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Moody answered questions and provided insight into the effects soil types can have on ground water pollution. Determining if the creek bed is clay, and therefore impervious, or sand will have an impact on the effects of runoff into the creek. Our ninth-graders plan on using the Field Soil Calculator App developed by West Point cadets Ryan Kowal and Walter Iradikunda to classify the soil in the stream bed.

Next week Metroparks naturalist Martin Calabrese will provide field guidance to find a suitable sampling point close to the source of Cahoon Creek. Marty will also demonstrate the use of a densiometer to determine forest overstory density, which we will learn is important in studying the effects of urban runoff.

We plan on submitting our studies to the eCyberMission competition, a web-based STEM initiative offered by the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program. The program seeks to develop real-world solutions for the benefit of their communities.

The Marine Environment Explorer Club 360 is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life program which concentrates on developing life skills, character, leadership and ethics for sixth- through eighth-grade students. For further details contact Jennifer LaRiccia, Director of Exploring, at or 216-458-8905.

Sea Scouting is a co-ed adventure and boating program for youth 14 and over. For further details contact Richard Gash, or 440-871-6106.

Richard Gash

Adult leader with Sea Scout Ship 41, contact

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 10:09 AM, 01.10.2017