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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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."
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