Day 1: Introduction and Project Design

One Class Period
Classroom and schoolyard

Introduce concepts of basic stream ecology, macroinvertebrate ecology and experimental project design to students.




- Introduce concepts of basic stream ecology and macroinvertebrate ecology by direct instruction using a PowerPoint

- Provide students with the guidelines and rubric for their research project and discuss expectations

- Students are to write their own procedure, but all the project designs will be checked by the teacher to ensure they meet the following criteria:

1)  Collect leaves on Day 1, allow to dry for two days, meanwhile designing experiment

2)  Place leaves in mesh bag, tie bag to rock in a particular habitat of the stream, ensure the leaf litter bag stays submerged

3)  Periodically monitor mesh bags to ensure they are still there and submerged, and remove from stream after 3 weeks

4)  Use a large bucket to remove the entire mesh bag from the stream; on shore, group members methodically go through the leaf litter to identify (to Order using flashcards) and count the number of macroinvertebrates (keep tally on Macroinvertebrate Count Chart); macroinvertebrates can be placed in petri dishes or ice cube trays using fingers and/or live-insect forceps, and identified with the aid of magnifying glasses or MacroLens (which fit over 4” petri dishes); most macroinvertebrates can be returned to the stream after being counted, but a few of each order should be placed in a plastic container or Ziplock bag with a small amount of water (back at the lab, preserve these specimens with 80% ethanol, and use stereomicroscopes to identify each to Family using the “Family-Level Key to the Stream Invertebrates of Maryland and Surrounding Areas” (this activity will serve as an Extension part of the unit, and can be used to differentiate instruction for higher-level students)

- Students go to the stream to collect various leaf samples which they will need for their experiments


Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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