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College of Education

September 2016

A new university-high school partnership… and joke

Here’s a joke that always brings the house down:

Who do Zooplankton get their Christmas gifts from?
Santa clausi

(**sound of crickets**)

OK, that doozy aside…

Zooplankton, phytoplankton, and other nutrients, including harmful algae and invasive copepods exist in the Columbia River estuary.

The Columbia River’s 146-mile estuary is one of the largest in the nation. Only the Missouri–Mississippi system carries more water. Rapid population growth has changed land use in the Columbia estuary’s watershed in ways that may affect coastal ecosystems.

That’s where WSU Vancouver professor Tamara Nelson comes in. Believe us when we say it’s not just to save everyone from our corny jokes.

She’s joining two other WSU faculty research to lead student-conducted Columbia estuary research. Why? Because it’s critical to understand how nutrients and organisms from upstream contribute to habitat degradation, and the spread of invasive species.

The official project name is called Columbia River Estuary Science Education and Outreach: a Landscape-scale University–High School Partnership Integrating Scientific and Educational Research.

Yes, it’s a mouthful. So… CRESCENDO, for short.

The high school students gather water, plankton, and hydrographic data in the estuary, to learn about and assess relative effects of cumulative watershed drainage, and local factors such as sewage outflows (there’s gotta be a joke in there somewhere).

Nelson will join Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens and Steve Bollens, both also from the Vancouver campus. The job of the trio is to gauge what students have learned about science and stewardship; students’ ecological knowledge and outlook.

The research plan called for students at five high schools along the estuary to spend two years collecting water samples, plankton tows, and hydrographic data.

Washington State University