Aquatic invertebrate/moving water sampling


Teacher’s Name: Mara Wiggin

Class Grade Level(s) & School: 7/8 grade, Falmouth Middle School

Number of Students in the class: 7 students

Lesson/Project Name: Aquatic invertebrate/moving water sampling

Maine Learning Results:


B. Data: Measurement and Approximation: 7

B. Data Analysis: 7: 1a & b


A1: 6-8: c

B1: 6-8: c, d, f

A. Pre-Reflection

1. Teaching Goals:

a. to engage student in data collecting – make them feel like scientists!

b. to connect this activity to ‘real life’ – increase student awareness that the stream that they  play in has unique features and characteristics and is a host for an abundance of life that is  indicative of the health of the stream.

c. to engage students in a collaborative experience that involves inquiry

2. Student goals

a. Process skills/ goals: data collection, report analysis

b. Subject/content goals: awareness/understanding of systems, collect aquatic organisms, collect stream ecosystem data

B. The Plan

A local water board is concerned about the water quality in the stream.  You are hired to determine the health of the stream by looking at an aquatic invertebrate sampling and related water quality measurements.


Surber net (500 microns)

Zoo plankton net (363 microns)


Thermometer (for air and water)

Water quality kit (pH, nitrates, nitrites, ammonia)

turbidity tube

Glass vials (24)

Wash bottle


Notebooks, 5X7 (7)

Data collection sheets for each station

Ethyl alcohol/water preservative, pre-made (70-80% etOH)

Freshwater aquatic invertebrate identification book

The Project

1. Pre-prep – Clothing: make sure students know to come in dressed for data collection in a stream, i.e. shorts and sandals, or boots.

2. Prep before going outside (60 minutes/day or 1 class period)

Description of prep: tools, discussion, academic work, outdoor behavior rules

*Have a list of tools hung up.

*Have a list of the stations and their descriptions hung up.

*Have all the tools spread out on the table – go through them one by one and model how they will be used.

*Explain the directions for each station. Hand out notebooks to each student. Have students glue in the data collection sheets for each station (App. A & B). Review the data the students will be collected at each station. Encourage the students to draw pictures.

*Assign groups of 2 (1 group will have 3, 1 station will be free at a time) to each station. The 3 teachers will stay at one station (can pass on tips for success).

*Students have as much time as needed; collecting lab can be 1 or 2 days (classes) long.

*Outdoor behavior rules: no pushing in stream – students are not allowed to purposefully get wet.  If someone says stop, then stop what you are doing.  Students are expected to complete the lab. If a student is not participating or are impeding others participation or completion of the lab, that student will be asked to go into the classroom with a teacher to complete other work.

*If I call you back in, it is because we need to meet as a group for some reason. If you are right in the middle of collecting, finish only what you are doing and come meet the group. You will have time to finish.

3. Outside (60 minutes/day; 1-2 days)

*Start by taking a walk along the stream. What do we notice? Look for & note details (broken branches, leaf litter, rocks, eggs, fish, sand, muck, algae, frogs, flow of stream, surrounding vegetation, evidence of humans/animals, plants)

4 stations:

1) invertebrate collection using surber net- find number and types of invertebrates, record

2) invertebrate collection using zooplankton net – find number and types of invertebrates,             record in notebook

3) physical data collection (air/H2O temp, pH, density of stream shade, slope of                                                 stream, features of stream, time of day, date- record in notebook

4) measure turbidity of water – using turbidity tube, record in notebook

4. Classroom follow-up (60 minutes/day)

*Have groups record the data they collected on board – compare the data collected by different groups.

*Combine and consolidate data.

*What do our findings mean?

*Have students do research on the internet to determine what the data means for the stream’s health.

*Lesson extensions:

Have students try to identify some of the invertebrates.

Have students represent the amounts of invertebrates or other information in the form of a             graph or chart.

Look up stream on google earth.

*Follow up activity: Have each student write a letter to the local water board with a determination of the health of the stream. Be specific about why you think this regarding the aquatic invertebrates found, the turbidity of the water, and some of the physical characteristics (i.e. pH).

C. Reflection

Appendix A

Appendix B

Physical Data Collection
Time of day
Air temperature
Water temperature
Density of stream shade
Slope of stream (i.e., slight, steep, none)
Additional features of stream area
Turbidity measurement


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