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WhatÂ’s in the Water? Biological Water Quality

The first hour is a lecture / review on what constitutes a watershed in the broad sense. Students learn about bioindicators, species which can be used to determine the health of an ecosystem. They also learn about different measurements that can indicate stream health, including dissolved oxygen, chlorine, calcium, turbidity, etc., and the significance of these. Students then internalize this when the lesson turns to specifics about their own watershed. Based on what they know going into the lesson, they are asked to predict whether their watershed will be healthy or not. We then talk about their watershed, with photos from along the watershed itself, and ask again to see if anyone changes their predictions. Students make predictions about the quality of water in their local stream. On day two, we take a field trip to the stream (or teachers may bring samples into the classroom if a fieldtrip is not an option) and students are given water testing kits to test three different parameters of water quality. Students then answer questions about their results, including the big question: was their prediction correct – is their watershed healthy or not? On the final day, we talk about all of the results, and determine if we were correct about the health of the stream, and discuss how this may change over the course of the year, and why.

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