Wednesday, April 24, 2013

West Eugene Wetlands

Last Thursday the River Spies explored West Eugene Wetlands near West 11th and Danebo Avenue. Susanna Hamilton, an environmental educator from Willamette Resources & Educational Network (WREN), led our explorers through the wetlands and equipped us with everything we needed for another round of pond dipping. The River Spies learned about the components of a wetland, inspected plants, identified wetland creatures, and found clues that signified a particular animal's presence. 

Susanna Hamilton & Ron Leonard of WREN meet the River Spies.

This grass clump is a clue that raccoons
use this tree as a communal toilet! 

What is a wetland?

Explorations along the trail.

Raccoon tracks!

Inspecting a beaver tooth.

Identifying creatures from the pond:
tadpoles, spiders, beetles, scuds, stoneflies, and damselflies - oh my!

Pond dipping with nets.

WREN runs many environmental education programs throughout the year. You can peruse their activities and events on their blog:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Watershed Models

Last week, the River Spies created watershed models out of paper and water soluble markers. We added precipitation (via a spray bottle) to the models and watched as watersheds formed before our eyes.

Paper Watershed Model 

This simple project clearly shows how water travels from ridges to basins and how gravity pulls water down the "mountains" through the path of least resistance.  

The River Spies then observed how water and pollutants flow over impervious (or non-porous) and porous surfaces. We correlated these observations with surfaces around the school such as the roof, asphalt, sidewalks, soil, and vegetated surfaces. 

We also set up an experiment to make fresh water from salt water (distillation) - the results will be revealed next week!

Last, but not least, the kids enjoyed a silly snack time!
Parker, Andre, Christopher, & Sofia

Andrew, Levi, & Dylan

Brennan, Marley, Rory, & Julia

Saturday, April 6, 2013

World Water Monitoring Challenge

This past week the River Spies participated in the World Water Monitoring Challenge by collecting data from Amazon Creek near Amazon Park. Our hardy team of young investigators measured water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and pH levels. 
Geared up for the weather.

Scoping out the site.

Collecting a water sample.
Our Amazon Creek site had a water temperature of 11℃. Aquatic organisms need a certain temperature range to survive and thrive. For a frame of reference, salmon prefer a range of 5-10℃.
Getting our feet wet!

Our Amazon Creek site had a turbidity reading of 40 JTU. In general, the less turbid (or less suspended particles) the better. Suspended particles can clog fish gills, smother eggs, block sunlight needed by aquatic plants, and raise water temperature by absorbing heat.

Dissolved Oxygen
With a DO reading of 8ppm, our Amazon Creek site was about 72% saturated. Cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than warm water before it is 100% saturated. Bodies of water with high dissolved oxygen levels provide healthy and stable environments for a variety of aquatic organisms. 
Mixing the DO reagent.
Comparing DO results with the chart.

Our Amazon Creek site had an average pH of 7.5. The majority of freshwater organisms live within a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.
Comparing pH results with the chart.
Our staging area by the creek side.

I entered our data from 4/4/13 on the World Water Monitoring website: