Table of Contents
Geography Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 898164, 9 pages
Research Article

An Evaluation of Data Collected by Middle School and College-Level Students in Stream Channel Geomorphic Assessment

Department of Geography, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751-GEOG, Portland, OR 97207-0751, USA

Received 31 May 2013; Revised 27 October 2013; Accepted 31 October 2013

Academic Editor: Siyue Li

Copyright © 2013 Martin D. Lafrenz. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This project tested the accuracy and repeatability of geomorphic stream channel assessments conducted by two different middle school classes from the Walt Morey Middle School in Troutdale, OR and college students from Portland State University in Portland, OR. Each group surveyed the same three cross-sections in Fairview Creek, a tributary to the Lower Columbia River, in order to assess stream channel geometry, discharge, composition of the bed material, and water quality. The three student groups were all able to accurately document the stream channel geometry, including stream width and mean depth, indicating that these data can be successfully collected by volunteers of various ages. However, stream velocity obtained using the float method was consistently overestimated leading to a biased calculation of discharge, and the low precision of the measurements did not allow for a correction of the bias. The median particle size of the bed material determined by a pebble count was also overestimated by each group, but the low precision also negated the possibility of correcting the estimate. The stored fine sediment in the bed was underestimated by each group and again with low precision. The temperature, pH, and conductivity measured with a calibrated multimeter were accurate and precise for all groups.