CITIZEN CONTACT: Amber Finkelstein

Ohio EPA Awards $45,000 Environmental Education Grant to Ohio University for Virtual Boat

Ohio EPA has awarded an environmental education grant worth $45,253 to Ohio University in Athens County for a virtual learning experience. Nine grants were awarded statewide for $350,000.

The university is currently studying the impacts of human activity on water quality in the Ohio River basin. The goal of the study is to integrate research results into a high school education curriculum. Water quality samples are being taken from a boat on the Ohio River, but the ability to engage high school students from the basin in the project is limited by distance, boat capacity and the duration of the sampling season (when the boat can dock and navigate along the river).

This Ohio EPA grant will support a Virtual Boat iPad and desktop computer game to expand learning efforts. Students will be able to conduct two- and three-dimensional water sampling along a virtual river using an existing Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database. The database will simulate current river conditions from Marietta to Gallipolis and information from a Global Positioning System (GPS) will teach students how to index water quality and locate fish kills and pollutants.

Students will “test” for dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, biochemical oxygen demand, temperature change, total phosphate, nitrate, turbidity and total solids. Results will be based on real data collected by the university and the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO).

The game will be field-tested with students and teachers at two high schools in Athens and Meigs counties. Additionally, the game will be demonstrated to the public through one-week exhibits at public libraries in the two counties, and a Research and Create Activity Expo at the university.

The Ohio Environmental Education Fund is administered by Ohio EPA.  Grants up to $50,000 are funded from one-half of the civil penalties collected by the Agency for air and water pollution control violations.

For additional information, contact the Ohio Environmental Education Fund on the web or at (614) 644-2873.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. In the past 40 years, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. Ohio EPA….40 years and moving forward.

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