Water Canaries: Assessing Benthic Macroinvertebrates

Water Canaries
In a national park, students will collect benthic macroinvertebrates from streams with nets, classify and identify them. Prior to the field study, students act out a play that portrays macroinvertebrates as “water canaries,” or early warning signals of decreasing water quality. They will use the BTW Website to identify macroinvertebrates they might find in the park. After the field study students analyze and report their real-time data, reflect on their park experience, and assess their group’s performance. By using macroinvertebrates as water quality indicators, students will gain firsthand knowledge of how to determine stream health. This knowledge serves to engage students in further investigating issues associated with water quality, and will allow them to pursue service projects like joining a local stream monitoring group to examine the health of streams in their own community.