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Outdoors Stream Days Stream Day 2006, West Plains Elementary

West Plains 3rd Grade Stream Day
May 16, 2006
Hammond Mill Access, Northfork River

Six third grade classes from West Plains Elementary School finally got to participate in a Bryant Watershed Education Project Stream Day on May 16, 2006. Lots of rain and high water caused the postponement from the original date of May 4th. All 119 students agreed it was worth the wait.

Pretest scores ranged from 0 to 100%, with an average score of 45%. Class averages ranged from 37% to 55%. The pretest showed that 70% of the 3rd graders knew that pollution begins with people, while only 22% could identify a pipe dumping chlorine as an example of point source pollution. Only 17% of the students could define watershed and 53% knew the source of a river is called its headwaters. 53% identified a plant as the beginning of a food chain.

During the Stream Day on May 16th students attended the following sessions:

Macroinvertebrate Survey
Students learned about macroinvertebrates and how their presence indicates the quality of the water. Students watched as presenters used a kick net to collect macroinvertebrates. Using identification sheets students then separated and sorted the macroinvertebrates into ice cube trays. Students recorded the number of each to determine water quality.
Macroinvertebrate Study: Below, left to right: Identifying macroinvertebrates taken from a riffle in the river. MMN volunteer John Rothgeb explains how to use the stream invertebrates key. MMN volunteer Pat Hight demonstrates a specimen in a bottle.
Food Chain and Food Web Game
Students reviewed vocabulary including food chain, food, predator, prey, carnivore, omnivore, herbivore, etc. They were given cards with pictures of Missouri animals or plants on one side and that animal or plants foods, predators, and habitat on the other. Each student was given a card and was asked to read the information. When they were finished reading they attached the picture to their shirt using a clothes pin.
Three students were called on to form a food chain: a plant, a macroinvertebrate, and an animal. The food chain was illustrated by students holding a piece of yellow ribbon. Each of the three was asked if there were other things they ate and those animals were added using the yellow ribbon. Additional students were added if they ate any of the animals already involved in the now expanding food web.
After all the students in the group were included in the web and all connected with the yellow ribbon they discussed which animals or plants would be affected if a factory moved in with a pipe draining a pollutant into the river. Which animal or plant would be affected first? Students with those animals or plants then dropped their yellow ribbons. A discussion of how the loss of those animals or plants affected the other plants and animals followed. As each animal or plant showed signs of being affected they dropped their yellow ribbons until all the ribbons were dropped. The game illustrated how all plants and animals are affected by pollution.
Food Web Game: Bryant Watershed Education Project educator Wanda Byrd leads the group. Each student assumes the role of a plant or animal and becomes a link in a food chain, acting out the relationship of producers to consumers and predators to prey.
Scavenger Hunt (Field Finds)
Students were given a list of things to find and check off of a list, without touching or picking. For example, they were told to find a plant that is as tall as your knee, find a leaf that has edges with tiny teeth, find a flying insect or spider, find a flower smaller than your thumbnail, and find animal signs such as a spider web or insect gall. Students worked in pairs or by themselves. They were encouraged to use observation skills as they slowly walked in an area near the woods.
 See Field Finds activity

Insect and Bird Hike

Students were given binoculars and nets and taken on a bird watching hike. They learned to use binoculars and found if they were quiet they heard birds they had never noticed before. Guided by a naturalist, they learned how to net and release an insect or butterfly without injury to the animal. Most students were able to see and with help identify at least four different birds.

Left: Missouri Dept. of Conservation educator Melanie Carden-Jessen leads a birdwatching session.

Nature Journaling Walk

Each student received a drawing board, a Nature Journal, pencils, markers, colored pencils and field guides. A naturalist explained the importance of observing nature and recording these observations. Students learned to first record the date, weather, and place in their journals. After a short walk to point out nettle, poison ivy, Virginia creeper and other plants, students were given time to just sit and observe things in nature. They were also encouraged to draw and describe something that interested them. Using as many senses as possible, without harm to plants or themselves, students described what they saw, smelled, touched, and/or heard.

Nature journaling: Missouri Dept. of Conservation educator Wendy Ziegler

Stream Table

Students were shown a model of a stream called a Stream Table. They were shown that a stream has a serpentine path called a "meander" and taught that a stream naturally wants to do this, based on the material it runs into and over on its path. People try to deepen a stream, but it only fills in again and we try to straighten the stream, but it will eventually return to its natural path or meander. Students participated in this hands-on activity, building fences, planting trees etc. on the model stream. The students also learned that these activities in a real stream contribute greatly to the destruction of the macroinvertebrate life which is the basis for the food chain in the stream.

Stream table: Bryant Watershed Education Project Team Watershed volunteer Herman Byrd.

Post test
The post test was given the following day with scores ranging from 20 % to 100%. The post test average was 78%, an increase of 33 %. Class averages ranged from 62% to 98%, increases of 25% to 43%. The post test showed that 93% of the 3rd graders knew that pollution begins with people (a 23% increase) and 55% could identify a pipe dumping chlorine as an example of point source pollution (a 33% increase). 72% of the students could define watershed (a 55% increase) and 53% knew the source of a river is called its headwaters (a 24% increase). 53% identified a plant as the beginning of a food chain (a 42% increase).

Student comments about Stream Day from thank you notes written in class include:
Robert: "…it was awesome when I held the crawldad (student spelling) on my hands…"
Megan: "The part that I liked was when we went a little bit in the woods."
Ashley: "I really liked the stations that we went to. I hope you could come next year."
Victoria: "My favorite part was making a stream in that gravel. It was also fun finding all the tiny things that we do not usually see."
Tyler: "I just liked being there today."


 More info on the stream table

 More info on stream invertebrates

The development of content for Stream Days is funded through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII, through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, has provided partial funding for this project under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act.