In cooperation with the school’s Environmental Club and the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, students used their science skills to study water quality in a stream that runs through the school property. This project supported their science
curriculum involving water quality, watersheds, and point and non-point sources of pollution.
Many students in the school had already experienced service learning so the teacher began with a discussion of their past experiences and invited students to partake in the KIDS Consortium What Is It? Game. They also did a group juggle exercise that got them generating ideas and listening to each others’ suggestions.
Two members of the school’s environmental club then visited the class and discussed their project raising brook trout. They wanted to know if Blissville Brook, the stream crossing school land, would be a safe habitat for the trout they were going to release.
Since the students had recently done a macroinvertebrate study on another nearby stream, they readily agreed to assess whether Blissville Brook would have the biotic and abiotic qualities that the trout needed.
After further internet research on brook trout requirements, students began planning dates (both during and after school) in which they could gather the significant amount of data needed. Teams of students collected data and combined their findings on a master chart that listed several sampling locations. Using their science and math skills, students created graphs to help interpret the data.
The teacher chose student teams randomly, breaking up traditional classroom cliques. One student had to miss much of the project, due to a life-threatening illness, so classmates created a cardboard replica to keep him “present” through all their activities.
Students presented their findings to the environmental club, which was pleased to find that the stream would be a safe habitat for their trout. They invited the students to participate in the trout’s release, which proved a memorable experience for many. Findings of the macroinvertebrate study were published in the local Trout Unlimited newsletter, and were presented at a Board of Education meeting.