For those of you who don't know, Limnology is the study of freshwater ecosystems. In fact, it is sometimes called the “Oceanography of Lakes.” Freeport High School has been offering Limnology since 2006 and is one of very few Florida schools doing so. Each year, instructor Charles Trotman takes the FHS Limnology students on a field trip to Morrison Springs. This year's trip was taken in April.
The goal of the project is to examine the ecosystem from four perspectives: water chemistry, soil, macro invertebrates, and plants. Each group is assigned the task of analyzing its respective assignment and preparing a presentation for the class and a paper detailing their task and what they have learned about the overall “health” of the ecosystem based on their results.
Besides the knowledge gained, the students are learning how to obtain, store, analyze, and identify samples in the field using proper scientific techniques. They also learn how to work together in a team striving for a common result.
According to Mr. Trotman, learning science cannot be done exclusively in the classroom. It requires forays into the “real world” to see how things are outside the books.
Mr. Charles Trotman noted one major difference in Morrison since 1960: the spring discharge has decreased by almost 50%. In 1962, the discharge was measured at nearly 90 cubic feet (675 gallons) per second. In 2004, it was measured at 49 cubic feet (about 368 gallons) per second. This is due to two factors. First is we are in a long-term drought cycle. The second is that, in that time period, the population of Florida has increased by over 15 million people. The increased stress on the Floridian Aquifer (the main source of water for the state) has affected all of Florida's springs.