Handbook of Engaged Learning Projects


Scenario - Really Raw Data

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Really Raw Data


Wrapping Up

During the next visit to the river the students perform the stream monitoring tests. The students are grouped into five teams. Each team has a Kick-Seine Net, a collection pan, a clip-board, hand lenses, bug boxes, alcohol thermometer, and a Field Identification Reference Sheet. Some children are wearing waders, tall boots and old gym shoes. No one with open cuts is allowed in the river. The teacher brings a water-testing kit, a long tape measure, small nets, corks, extra pencils, a small cooler, and plastic collecting jars. The tests the students perform are chemical analyses (pH, oxygen content, phosphate) biological observations (collecting and classifying organisms, including the benthic macroinvertibrates that will play an important role in assigning health rating to the river) and physical (temperature, rate of flow, with of river, composition of the river bed). Students are organized in teams to perform specific tasks dependent upon their interests and abilities. The DuPage Forest Preserve has provided detailed procedures in addition to the Citizen Stream Monitoring Guide. Students use the Monitoring Assessment Form to record their data.

Groups of 4 to 6 children with a parent volunteer are observed collecting organisms with their Kick-Seine nets . Some groups are in a nice riffle and find lots of stones under their feet. Other students are testing a pool with their smaller nets.. Students transfer their organisms to a basin and use the stream monitoring guide to identify the organisms. To get a better look they use hand lens and bug boxes. Groups take turns testing the water in specified locations. Two students measure the river flow by timing a floating cork as it moves a measured distance. Two other children measure the width of the river with a measuring tape. As they finish the testing they look at other areas, or draw some sketches of organisms that they find. The teacher circulates among the groups and records anecdotal notes on each student's performance with river monitoring equipment and measurement procedures.

The Forest Preserve personnel allow the classes to take samples of organisms from the river to examine in detail in the classroom. The teacher collects some representative organisms and river water in the cooler for students to examine back in the classroom.

Some students are at the computer sending their river quality data to Highlands School through e-mail, while others prepare the results for the DuPage Forest Preserve. Each group has recorded its data in a class room data-base and publish the results on the Internet web site from the Forest Preserve. Meanwhile, some of the students study the organisms they found while others make detailed sketches. Sketches are kept in the stream monitoring journal. Other students are checking the Illinois RiverWatch Network to compare their data with the data they have collected.

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Created: July 23, 1996 - Updated: November 24, 1999