Monday, October 5, 2015

Washington Middle School’s flagship program is underway!

Washington Middle School on Thursday October 1st kicked off its first flagship program event and WEN was able to participate! This week’s lesson was based on the different types of aquatic macro invertebrates that inhabit our local streams and rivers.  Students were not only taught the general importance of macros as indicator species of pollutants but students also received an in depth lesson on the different feeding groups within our local macro invertebrate community.

                Students were informed of two ways to categorize macroinvertebrates: how the food is obtained and or the type of food that is consumed.  While both are proven to be accurate, macros are omnivores and may feed on different food sources seasonally. Therefore we focus on how food is obtained by macros as means for categorizing. Macro invertebrates are divided into five primary categories.  Scrapers, shredders, collectors, engulf- predators and piercers.

                As a way to test the ability of macros to break down and consume detritus, students in pairs collected leaves and created leaf packs. Leaf packs are roughly softball sized and are contained by netting with small holes to allow macros to freely move in and out of leaf packs.

                The leaf packs are currently submerged at student chosen locations in ponds near Washington Middle School. We will revisit Washington Middle School’s flagship program this week after having collected the leaf packs. In class students will weigh their leaf packs and compare them to the pre-pond submersion weight that was obtained last Thursday.  After comparing the two weights, students will consider the influence that macros had on the total weight changes and rate of consumption.

                Thanks to all of our students, Washington Middle School’s flagship program coordinator Mike Lessard and the faculty that helps keep applied science in the classroom!