Little Bear Watershed Assessment Field Trip Report and Learning Reinforcement
Homeschool Institute of Science, July 26, 2013 Troy Waste Water Treatment Plant, West Fork Little Bear Creek, Upstream and downstream of plant
Little Bear Creek in North Idaho provides the student a snapshot into a complex real world stewardship problem. This is a perfect opportunity to be reminded that complex scientific studies such as the one ongoing in Little Bear Creek (involving hydrology, genetics, stream ecology, water chemistry, etc.) take place because study sites are unique. The findings here will not apply to all other streams in the Pacific Northwest, nor in North Idaho, nor even in the Clearwater River drainage.
In short, good students of ecology should raise red flags when they hear blanket statements.
The body of knowledge gained here is being used to clarify the pros and cons of how to best clean up a creek, continue to provide drinking water to the residents of Troy, Idaho, and increase local steelhead populations. Many different groups (City of Troy, state agencies, federal agencies, academics) are involved in this process, however, and making decisions in big groups can be difficult.
The Homeschool Institute of Science spent a day (2 hours with families in the morning and 4 hours with secondary students in the afternoon) getting to know the West Fork of Little Bear Creek, its inhabitants, its ecological processes, and the scientific techniques used to understand the health of the stream. We were blessed to be led by Dr. Erin Brooks, a local hydrology researcher and gifted teacher, and a homeschooling father of four.
This Learning Reinforcement is an opportunity for children and parents to review the information they learned on the field trip (or to learn for the first time if they could not attend the field trip). This can be done in a variety of ways. The overview is mostly for parents. We provide a list of questions from each of the different stations visited.
When you download the full report (at the bottom of the page) you find attached the lists of questions and several useful graphics of a riparian zone food web, nitrogen cycle, water tables, a watershed map, and a few others.
The images can be downloaded here as well.
- You can read questions aloud and have children answer or work to answer questions together.
- You can print this copy and have your children fill in the blanks as an open or closed book quiz.
- Some questions have answers provided. We want to make sure these take home points are clear. For elementary students focus on the facts of science, definitions, names of organisms. For secondary students focus on how processes work, analysis, and drawing conclusions.
- For answers to questions that are unknown and no answer provided, you and your children can do some investigative research using these sites:
- Wastewater Treatment: http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/plumbing/sewer3.htm
- Macroinvertebrate guide: http://www.seanet.com/~leska/Online/Guide.html
- Steelhead and salmon: http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/protected_species/salmon_steelhead/salmon_and_steelhead.html
Download the full report with Learning Reinforcement and images: Little Bear Field Trip Learning Reinforcement