Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another Amazon Creek Clean Up

The River Spies chose a culminating action project to improve the water quality of Amazon Creek. On 3/18/14, the River Spies embarked upon our second ever Amazon Creek Clean Up

A gigantic thank you to Carrie Karl of Eugene Park Stewards for greeting us at Amazon Park, accompanying our crew, providing gear, and for hauling away our trash collection at the end. 

Carrie Karl of Eugene Park Stewards greets the River Spies.
We started at the north end of Amazon Park near 24th and moved south from there. The River Spies worked fast and furiously to collect as much trash as possible in our allotted time. The kids were so excited to pick up trash and to have a positive impact upon the health of Amazon Creek!

Working our way south along Amazon Creek.
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, a seat cushion, a bike tire, clothes, wooden posts, and lost dog balls.

Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration

On 3/11/14, the River Spies used Vernier technology to check the accuracy of our water quality test kits and to explore photosynthesis.

Compliments of Pacific University, I was able to borrow the following equipment:
Vernier LabQuests, a Temperature Probe, a pH Sensor, a DO Probe, an O2 Sensor, a CO2 Sensor, and a BioChamber 250.

Vernier LabQuest and sensors.
We took advantage of the spring growth in the Edison school garden and used some fresh greens to explore photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

The River Spies gather leaves from the garden.
First we created an equation for photosynthesis by asking, “What do plants need for survival?” After gathering input from all the River Spies, we pared the list down to the bare essentials: 
6CO2 + 6H2O ------> C6H12O6 + 6O2
Sunlight energy  
Where: CO2 = carbon dioxide
2O = water
6H12O6 = glucose
2 = oxygen
We then used the Vernier equipment to test the leaves' output of Oand consumption of COin both light and dark conditions. The River Spies expected the leaves to produce oxygen in the light conditions (a product of photosynthesis) but were surprised that the leaves produced carbon dioxide in dark conditions (a product of cellular respiration).

River Spies Presentation for the Southeast Neighbors

On 2/25/14, the River Spies presented their water quality data at the Southeast Neighbors general meeting. Thank you to Zhuobin (Eleanor's mom) for capturing this video.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

An Abundance of Aquatic Marcroinvertebrates

On 3/4/14, the Rivers Spies surveyed for aquatic macroinvertebrates in Amazon Creek at the base of Amazon Headwaters (near Frank Kinney Park and Martin Street). 

Ready for sampling with nets in hand and buckets for temporary collections.

The water was quite turbid from recent rainstorms.

Macroinvertebrates are animals that lack a backbone and can be seen with the unaided eye. "Aquatic" refers to animals that spend most of their lives associated with bodies of water. These animals are excellent bioindicators - their presence, abundance, and diversity can indicate the health of a stream, river, lake, wetland, or other aquatic environment. Macroinvertebrates are grouped according to their tolerance to pollution. 

At our survey site, we turned over rocks, scanned the water, and scoured the stream banks in search of any life. We found macroinvertebrates in abundance: hundreds of black fly larvae clinging underneath rocks, caddis flies building stony fortresses, a water strider gliding along the surface, and mayfly, stonefly, and damselfly larva scuttling along submerged substrates.
Some of what we found:

Caddisfly Larva (2)
Sensitive or Intolerant of Pollution
Stonefly Larva (5)
Sensitive or Intolerant of Pollution

Mayfly Larva (15+)
Sensitive or Intolerant of Pollution

Damselfly Larva (10+)
Somewhat Tolerant of Pollution

Water Strider (1)
Tolerant of Pollution

Blackfly Larva (100+)
Tolerant of Pollution

Overall, our Amazon Creek site rated as having fair water quality.
A link to StreamWebs™  - an online water quality data base managed by OSU. 

Water Temperature Investigations

Our field data from Amazon Headwaters last week prompted the question, "Why did Amazon Creek temperature vary by two degrees Celsius within a short distance? Possible answers include amount of shade, thermal pollution from human activities, creek bed substrate, plant growth in the creek, abundance of aquatic organisms, depth and width of the creek, and the confluence of tributaries. On 2/25/14, the River Spies tested different variables that affect water temperature. The weather worked in our favor, so we were able to set up experiments outside under sunny skies. Each pair had a unique variable to test: 

Black bottom vs. white bottom
Shade vs. no shade
Red tray vs. clear tray
Shallow vs. deep - same volume of water
Large volume vs. small volume

The River Spies shared their initial predictions and shared conclusions from their results. If their findings did not match expected results, the River Spies explained sources of experimental error.

At the end of the session, the River Spies participated in a scavenger hunt around Edison campus (adapted from "Play in the Rain Day Scavenger Hunt" developed by Mt. Pisgah Arboretum). The River Spies located Douglas Fir cones, acorns, invertebrates, and organisms that grow on trees that are not part of the tree (lichen, moss, fungus).