Human Impacts—Real Time Data

Summary: How is water quality inland related to water quality located downstream? Much real time or near-real-time data collected by scientists and remote sensing equipment are posted online. In this focus area, students access some of these tools to answer questions about water quality.

Concepts to teach: Water quality, real time data, inquiry, downstream

Goals: Students access and interpret water quality data in the classroom using the internet and remote sensing tools. They use the data to answer questions about how water quality inland influences water quality in Oregon’s aquatic, estuarine and marine ecosystems.

H.3S.1, H.3S.2, H.3S.3

Specific Objectives:

  1. Gain experience working with real time data.
  2. Address/answer a water quality inquiry using real time data.
  3. Explain how inland and coastal water quality is connected.

Activity Links and Resources:

  • NOAA Estuary Education – Focusing on estuaries, these curriculum modules feature hands-on learning, experiments, field work and data explorations.
  • NANOOS—Collect and interpret real time water quality data from ocean observing buoys. Some buoys are located well up the Columbia River, so students are able to conduct an inquiry to compare and contrast aquatic, estuarine and ocean water quality data.
    • Rhythms of Our Coastal Waters interactive online exhibit leads students through real-time data collection and assessment in Yaquina Bay, Newport.
  • Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force website—Search for near-real-time data of bacterial counts on beaches.
  • Oregon Beach Monitoring Program—Search this DEQ site for fecal bacteria (enterococcus) counts for selected coastal recreation waters in Oregon.
  • Compare StreamWebs data from different sites in the watershed and throughout Oregon.
  • Using Real-time Data—This guide from Oregon Sea Grant contains links to a host of internet sites that have real-time information that will enhance tradition classroom lessons. With these resources your students can use real-time data to investigate earth systems.


  • Students prepare a scientific lab report that describes the procedures and outcome of their investigation using real-time data.