Local high school students stepped back into their hip waders and ventured into the cool, rushing water of Black Moshannon Creek this week.
The students are part of TeenShale Network, an ongoing water quality monitoring run by Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute.
TeenShale gives State College Area School District students a chance to learn real science alongside professionals. Their work collecting samples also leads to better baseline data about the state's waterways.
The students are looking for changes in water quality that could be caused by pollutants from sources like nearby natural gas drilling sites.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is used to extract natural gas from rocks deep underground and the process has been controversial due to potential environmental impacts.
This year, the students will also be exploring the impact of Orphaned and Abandoned oil and gas wells. It is estimated there are many thousands of these wells scattered across the state, many lost to time. And if they are improperly plugged or damaged, they can release pollutants into water and the atmosphere.