Thursday, September 30, 2010

Discovering a Treasure with Swan Valley School

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This late September morning we were very excited to take Swan Valley School out to Glacier Creek. The morning started bright and early for the long drive out, and we could tell it was going to be a great morning. Maddie, Josh, and I were very excited not only for the scenic drive ahead (which I later loved, especially passing Salmon Lake), but to be with the kids at such a great location. I have to say, once we reached the dirt road that extended deeper into the forest, I was getting quite excited.

After an almost two-hour drive, we arrived at the stream, parking beside an old rusty bridge, with the river flowing swiftly below. At first, I was a little worried when few students showed up in jackets, but the weather turned out to be just perfect, it wasn’t hot or cold, and the sun was there keeping everyone chipper and toasty. The kids were unbelievably great, very eager to learn and participate. The groups at each of the stations were a mixture of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders and they worked so well together—the older students took on leadership roles, helping the younger students and I think it was really beneficial for the group as a whole.

It was my first time running the physical station and it was a lot of fun! It was really helpful to have both, Maddie and myself, keeping the students interactive and listening at each end of the velocity station. The kids had a blast throwing the sticks in the water, and I’m pretty sure it was starting to turn into a competition of who could throw the hardest and farthest. Once all of our data was collected, the high number of positive indicating insects collected, combined with our high oxygen content and pristine clear, cold water, we knew Glacier Creek was a promising supply to the Swan River.

The trip ended at the school, where Josh gave a wonderful presentation to the 4th grade classroom about what makes a healthy stream, including what types of conditions are ideal for our native trout populations. The students were then allowed to ask questions, and the only question was directed toward Josh, asking, “do you like healthy foods?” Confused, Josh replied with a “yes” and the student told him, “because Lunchables are 100% healthy!” The students then filed out of the room to the cafeteria, where they would be treated to their much anticipated lunch after a long morning as watershed scientists.

—Megan Girsch
WEN Fall UM Intern
Wildlife Biology

Friday, September 24, 2010

Adventures with C.S. Porter Middle School

Hello Everybody!
We had a great turnout at our C.S. Porter field trip this past Tuesday. Attending the trip was Tom, Garreth, Maddie, Stephannie, Josh, David, and myself. Our usual biological, chemical, and physical stations were set up for the kids to explore, and for the first time we were able to have a fourth station: invasive plants (many thanks to Stephannie).

Nearly every sixth-grader was talking and laughing as they approached the Bitterroot River early Tuesday—I could certainly tell they were eager to begin their morning as WEN’s very own scientists. I ran the chemistry station with Garreth, and we had a lot of fun working with the kids, watching them jump around and shake up their water samples. The best part about working at the chemistry station was listening to the responses to, “what is pH?”—needless to say, they discovered that it was not some sort of health issue or disease and it does not stand for doctor. It was really rewarding at the end to listen to the kids tell us what they learned and liked about the trip, especially when I heard, “I liked learning about pH,” and “pH from zero to seven is acid-ic.”

The children had a really great time at every station—the first thing we heard from the group that came to us from the plant station was endless bragging about how far they could spit seeds; the kids that had yet to go to the bug station anxiously eyed the lucky ones trampling around in the water nearby, and those from the physical station were thrilled to have spent their time with Josh, saying how fun we was (they probably just liked the Swedish Fish he gave them as a treat!). Not only did I have fun participating in the field trip, but I was also proud to have taken part in something so great. The amount of detailed information the kids learned and could explain to us at the end of the trip was extremely impressive. As soon as I got back to the office I signed up for another trip the following week, with no doubt about it! I strongly encourage others to do the same, you won’t regret it.

--Megan Girsch
WEN Intern