[Ms. Chris and her 8th grade students have started a long term project studying the water quality of both the stream that runs through The Outdoor Learning Center and the Valley River. These photos and words come from Ms. Chris in her explanation of the project.]
We put mesh bags of dead leaves into the creek and the river (one each place), in order to collect benthic macroinvertebrates (aka bugs and worms that live in the water). The leaves grow algae, which feeds certain animals which then feed other animals. These invertebrates are useful bioindicators of stream health because many of them are very sensitive to water quality–if the water quality is poor, they can’t live in it. On the flip side, certain ones are very tolerant of poor water quality, so if you find nothing but those invertebrates, you know that the water quality is probably bad.