Thank you so much for your interest in Project Watershed. We provide quality environmental and applied science education field experiences for your students. Project Watershed meets essential New York State learning standards for science, math and technology. Our knowledgeable and experienced staff and volunteers provide all the teaching, equipment, and materials needed for the field session. We do ask that you prepare your students for the field session using the information on the For Teachers pages, the For Students pages, and the Lessons and Modules we provide.
Check back for information on upcoming teacher trainings, or contact Project Watershed Coordinator .
Materials for the Classroom
Project Watershed leaders will provide all the equipment and materials your students need to monitor a stream in the field. If you are interested in using any of these materials throughout the school year, you may order your own books and equipment. The Guide to Aquatic Insects and Crustaceans includes a dichotomous key to identify stream macroinvertebrates. It also includes illustrations, detailed descriptions, and life history information for each critter. The biological monitoring instructions and data form are also included. The Field Guide to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates is a laminated identification guide made for easy use in the field. The Watershed Stewardship Action Kit contains fact sheets on stream monitoring, stream restoration, wetland ecology, pollution sources, and project ideas. It includes easy-to-copy data sheets and monitoring instructions. Ordering information and additional descriptions of all our publications are available at www.iwla.org/sosbooks. Information on ordering biological monitoring equipment, such as kick-seine nets, is available at www.iwla.org/sosequipment.
Before the Stream Monitoring Event
Before the stream monitoring event, please use these lessons [link to lessons and modules on current site] to help your students understand of the concepts involved in the program. It is helpful if students understand watersheds, point and nonpoint source pollution, and the links between land uses and water quality. A brief discussion of these concepts are available here. Please also remind the students to dress appropriately for the weather and to where sturdy shoes and socks.
At the Stream Monitoring Event
Project Watershed staff or volunteers will meet you at the stream site. We will bring all that is needed for the stream monitoring activity including equipment for the chemical and biological tests, waterproof boots for students, identification keys, data forms, etc.
The monitoring event is designed to be a thoroughly engaging activity for the students. The PW volunteers, upon the student's arrival, make sure each student understands what they are doing and why it is important. From that point on, a lot happens in a relatively short time. Students measure temperature, velocity, and other physical characteristics of the stream and its surroundings. Next, students collect benthic macroinvertebrates (stream insects and crustaceans that live on the stream bottom) by turning over rocks and kicking around in the streambed dislodging whatever might be hidden there to be caught by students with a net downstream. Students then pick the macroinvertebrates off the net, separate them into look-alike groups, identify them using keys we provide, and count them. Water quality ratings of excellent, good, fair, and poor are based on the pollution tolerance levels of the bugs found and the diversity of bugs in the sample.
Depending on the amount of time available, we will either explain chemical tests that were performed on the water using accurate probes or we will give students a chance to perform similar tests using hands-on methods. We collect information on temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, turbidity, total dissolved solids, nitrates, phosphates, and fecal coliform bacteria.
The group then discusses their findings, what those findings have to say about the health of the stream, and the potential factors influencing those findings.
After the Stream Monitoring Event
Back in the classroom the students use the Project Watershed Database to compare their findings with the results from previous years at that same site, as well as compare their data with that found in other area streams. You can also follow up in the classroom with the activities we provide.