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Life in a Forest Stream

Keywords: invertebrate, vertebrate, seine net, electroshock, microscopic, metamorphosis, larva, nymph; Lesson Plan Grade Level: eighth grade; Setting: Reed's Gap State Park (Honey Creek)

Goals for the Lesson

  • Students will observe, classify, identify, and study the anatomy of a wide variety of macro-invertebrates found in Honey Creek.
  • Students will utilize a variety of methods to collect and handle living samples from the stream.
  • Students will demonstrate proper use and prior knowledge of the stereoscopic microscope, pH meter, etc.
  • Students will demonstrate a respect for forest life no matter how inconsequential it may appear in the scheme of things.
  • Students will cite examples of "critters" exemplifying the two types of metamorphosis.

Materials Needed

  • stereoscopic microscopes
  • hand lenses
  • seine nets, electrodes, and battery pack
  • watch glasses
  • forceps
  • hip boots
  • waders
  • basins
  • Key to Common Invertebrates
  • pH meter (or pH strips)
  • thermometer
  • data sheets

State Standards Addressed: Biological Sciences (3.3); Chemistry (3.4); Ecosystems and Their Interactions (4.6); Watersheds And Wetlands (4.1)

Teaching Model: Traditional

Subjects Covered: ecology, biology, physics, chemistry

Topics: invertebrate zoology, life cycles, electrical energy, pH, stream ecology, biodiversity

Preparation

  1. Students must have a prior knowledge of invertebrate and vertebrate zoology and an understanding of water chemistry.
  2. Students should have completed a unit on microbiology and use of equipment prior to this field trip.
  3. Vocabulary and background readings necessary for this to be a successful experience should be completed by the students.
  4. A classroom visit by the park ranger should be arranged close to the time of the field trip.
  5. The teacher should visit the park before the trip to find suitable locations for the various stations.

Activity

  1. Arrive at the park
  2. Set up lab stations with required equipment, manuals, data sheets, and other tools.
  3. Divide students into groups.
  4. Introduce students to the adult supervisors for their groups.
  5. Students go to their stations.
  6. Begin collecting data: temperature, pH, etc.
  7. Illustrate the use of the seine net.
  8. Students begin collecting invertebrates using the nets.
  9. Specimens are taken to the observation areas where they are identified, classified and named using microscopes and keys.
  10. Organisms are released when activity is completed. One sample of each specimen is kept so the groups may share their discoveries.
  11. Bring groups together.
  12. Share findings; observe critters found by different groups.
  13. Teacher will demonstrate electro-shock to the class and illustrate how this technique is used to study populations in a stream.

Assessment

  • Students will work in groups of three or four students.
  • Students will go to different stations where specimens have been placed.
  • Students will complete data sheets on the specimens at each station.
  • Students will rotate to a new station at 10-minute intervals.
  • Students will demonstrate everything they have learned during this activity.

Conclusion

Students will discuss the experience in an open forum style. Questions will be answered by the specialists present.

Author

Alex Fox, Mifflin County School District