Monday, November 18, 2013

Amazon Creek Clean Up

Kinder River Spies hauling away a blanket

The Kinder and the 1st/2nd Grade River Spies decided to undertake an action project to improve the water quality of Amazon Creek. On 11/12/13, the River Spies embarked upon our first ever Amazon Creek Clean Up.

The 1st/2nd Grade River Spies found this sign along Amazon Creek banks.
The sign 
says "No Garbage Dumping"!

We started near the dog park at 29th & Amazon and moved north along Amazon Creek from there. With 45 minutes allotted for each group, the River Spies collected as much trash as possible in and along the creek. I have never seen kids so excited about picking up trash!

Armed with gloves, buckets, bags, squeeze handles, and boots, the River Spies picked up an astounding array of debris: plastic bags, food wrappers, cans, glass bottles, blankets, tarps, clothes, shoes, shave cream, masking tape, and balls.

A gigantic thank you to Carrie Karl of Eugene Park Stewards for loaning us supplies and for hauling away our trash collection at the end. All total, the River Spies extracted 2/3 of a cubic yard of trash from Amazon Creek!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Watershed Models in a Tray

On 11/5/13, the Kinder 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. 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.  

Watershed Model 

Adding water soluble markers to paper ridges

The 1st/2nd Grade River Spies designed watershed models in trays with sand, gravel, sponges, and wooden blocks. They had wildly different and unique designs! Before testing the models, the River Spies predicted how water would flow over their landscapes. 

Rory and Julia

Greta and Avi

Nora and Jocelyn

Jayling and Lena

Brennan and Levi

Monday, November 4, 2013

We Took the World Water Challenge!

Amazon Creek in Amazon Park

On 10/29/13, the River Spies participated in the World Water Monitoring Challenge by collecting data from Amazon Creek in Amazon Park (Kinder River Spies) and at the intersection of Amazon and Fox Hollow (1st/2nd Grade River Spies). Our hardy teams of young investigators measured water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and pH levels. 

Amazon Creek and Fox Hollow

The Amazon Creek sites had a water temperature of 10℃. Aquatic organisms need a certain temperature range to survive and thrive. For a frame of reference, trout and salmon require cool water no greater than 20℃ to survive. Salmon and steelhead need water temperatures less than 13℃ to spawn.

1st/2nd Grade River Spies analyzing a water sample


The Amazon Creek sites had a turbidity reading of 0 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 4ppm, our Amazon Creek site was about 35% 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 pH reagent 

Comparing pH with a color results sheet


Our Amazon Creek site had an average pH of 7.0. A majority of freshwater organisms live within a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.

I entered our data from 10/29/13 on the World Water Monitoring website: