Aquatic macroinvertebrates are such an interesting way to bring a hands-on inquiry-based activity into your classroom by letting your student gain an insight into concepts and processes that occur within the mysterious world of a stream ecosystem.
Nearly every aspect of a stream’s ecosystem is influenced by water flowing downstream. The flow of a stream transports organic matter, which is eaten by aquatic organisms (Merritt and Cummins 1996). Faster flowing parts of a stream carry organic matter (e.g., leaves, debris) to slower moving parts, where it settles to the bottom. Changes to the physical bottom of a stream can lead to fewer macroinvertebrates adapted to specific habitats (Merritt and Cummins 1996). This loss of habitat and increased sedimentation in a stream could ultimately change the aquatic macroinvertebrate community (Roth, Allan, and Erickson 1996).
In this project, with partnership with Coopersville Middle School, students relate the distribution of aquatic organisms to the physical, chemical, and biological relationships in a stream. Based on these distributions, they make inferences about the ecosystem attributes and water quality of a stream and predict how human-induced changes, such as construction projects, or natural changes, such as drought, could affect organisms in the stream.
Allegheny College, Grand Valley State University, Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)
Keith Piccard, 6th grade, Science
GVSU College of Education, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Showcase Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9qBd7wb57A