Keywords: aquatic, macroinvertebrates, streambed, clarity, and data; Grade Level: 2nd Grade (with the help of 5th Grade Science Buddies); Total Time Required: 4 days (approximately 1 hour each day); Setting: South Mountain Creek, classroom

Subjects Covered: Science and Ecology, Language Arts

Topic(s) Covered: Pollution caused by society and the role the forest plays in keeping our water clean.

Goals for the Lesson

1.Students will determine the water quality of the South Mountain stream at two different locations.
2. Students will identify reasons why the water quality may be different.
3. Students will discuss how people impact the stream.
4. Students will write a fictional story explaining what the impact is on a water droplet in a stream as it goes from the forest and continues through town.

Materials Needed

kick net, hand held nets, magnifying glasses, field microscopes, container, Stream Study Record Sheet (see attachment), Macroinvertebrate Identification Chart (see attachment)

State Standards Addressed:
4.3.4C. Know the importance of natural resources in daily life.
4.8.4 B Explain how human activities may change the environment.
4.3.4B. Identify how human actions affect environmental health.
3.3.7A Describe the similarities and differences of living things.
1.4.3 Write a narrative piece.


Day 1:

1. Ask the class why it is important to know if the water in our area is clean.
2. Ask the class to name things that may pollute our waterways.
3. Explain that there are many ways to determine the water quality of streams and rivers. One way to get a quick reading is by doing a macroinvertebrate study.
4. Ask if they know what a macroinvertebrate could be. (Break the word into parts… They previously learned about the difference between invertebrates and vertebrates.)
5. Hand out the Macroinvertebrate Identification Packet (see attachment) and explain that certain macroinvertebrates can be found in streams depending on the water quality.
6. Pair students up with a 5th Grade Science Buddy and have them discuss the identification packet.
7. Explain that tomorrow they will be going to 1 of 2 points along the stream that flows down South Mountain and through the town of Emmaus. They will be doing a water quality macroinvertebrate study at these 2 locations.

Day 2:

1. Review what a macroinvertebrate is and hand out Stream Study Record Sheet (see attachment).
2. Discuss the importance of not trampling through the streambed when doing activities such as this. (Observe, don't disturb is one of our school's agreements.)
3. Hike through South Mountain and find the designated location to do the first macroinvertebrate study.
4. Demonstrate how to use the kick net and how to gently pull up rocks and look at the bottom to find specimens.
5. Students (along with their 5th Grade partners) will collect several specimens and put them into the container.
6. Students will use hand lenses, field microscopes, and identification guides to determine what they found.
7. They will complete the Stream Study Record Sheet (see attachment) and determine if the water quality is good, fair, or poor.

Day 3:

1. Discuss what their findings were during the stream study yesterday.
2. Explain that they will be walking through town to another spot on that same stream and doing their 2nd Macroinvertebrate collection.
3. Follow the same steps as yesterday.
4. Determine if the water quality is good, fair, or poor at this location.

Day 4:

1. Discuss what their findings were during the stream study yesterday.
2. Compare them with their findings from the previous day.
3. Aks them why they think there was a difference. (What was the environment around the stream like in the middle of South Mountain versus in the middle of Emmaus.)?
4. Have them conclude that the growth of our town and new innovations throughout the years has created pollution.
5. Have the students write a story from the viewpoint of a drop of water in the South Mountain stream. They need to explain how they feel as they go through the forest and what happens to them as they go through the town. (under the road, by the railroad tracks, by the car wash, etc…)


Stream Study Sheets and their "Water Drop" story.

Literature/Sources Cited

Stream Study Form (website:…/form.html)

Macroinvertebrate Identification Sheets. (website: The Stream Study (


Lisa Fritz, Seven Generations Charter School