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Step 2: Your Local Freshwater System

You have two options open for you to investigate your local freshwater system. Check with your teacher to see which one your teacher wants you to do.

Option 1: Do a detailed survey of a stream near you

This option will give you a more detailed look at what is happening in your local stream. It does require some specialized equipment, but we can provide you with that. Ask your teacher to check out the teachers page for details.

For this option, you will follow the Stream Team sampling protocol. It can be found at:

This is a fun and interesting way of checking out what is living in your stream. As you found out in the internet part of the WebQuest, the kind of macroinverebrates or "bugs" living in the water are a good indication of how health the stream is. If there are  lots of them, the stream is likely health. If not so many, the stream is likely not as health.

So, you get to go out and collect some bugs and make some water measurements like temperature, pH, turbidity and flow rate. After you collect all this information, you will bring the macroinvertebrates back to class to identify what they are, and how many of each species you found.

If your teacher decided you have enough time you can also set a minnow trap to see what type of small fish you can find. If so, set the trap when you first get to the stream, then after you have done all the rest of the sampling, pull the minnow trap to see what you caught. Use the identification key to see if you can identify what is living in your stream.


Option 2: Make some general observations about a freshwater body of water like a lake, stream or river near you.

This option gives you the opportunity to go out and discover what you can about your local watershed without the need for a lot of equipment.

You will need a camera and/or video camera, and a notepad and pen. That's it. Observations you should make are:

The water:

What body of water are you investigating? A river, lake, stream? what does it drain into? Another stream, or lake or the bay?

Human development:

What has been built nearby? Is there a road or homes? Maybe a store or an office building? Or perhaps a parking lot? what do you think these structures might be doing to the body of water? Is there a logged area nearby?

Plants and animals:

What is living near the water body you are looking at? Are there trees, shrubs, grasses? Are they all tall or short or a mixture? How are they important to the water body? What kind of animals live here? Do you see evidence of animals or does it just look like good animal habitat? What do the animals eat?

The environment:

From looking at the area right around the body of water, do you think it rains a lot here? What makes you arrive at that conclusion? Does it look like a lot of sun reaches the water or is it blocked by something like trees or a building?

Possile pollution sources:

Do you see anything around that might be a pollution source for the body of water? Is there water running off a road or parking lot carrying oil and gas into the water? Or maybe there is a garbage dump that is leaching toxic waste into the water? Or maybe there is a logged off area that is putting large amounts of sediment in the water.


Photos and filming:

While your are making your observations, make sure you take photos and video clips of interesting parts of what you are seeing. Make sure you have at least one good image of the water body itself and then of any other things that will help you give a clear picture of what is happening with the water body. Also, take notes detailing what you observe. A quick sketch of the scene could also be scanned in later to add to your final presentation or paper. When in doubt about how much to film or how many photos or notes to take, more is better at this point. You can edit and delete later, back in the classroom.



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