NORTH WEBSTER — Yesterday, the usual lessons of the North Webster Elementary students were replaced by the splashes of water, the shrieks of excitement and awes of discovery.
The Watershed Foundation guided Mrs. Jessie and Mr. Bollman’s 4th and 5th grade classes respectively down to the Tippecanoe River between Webster Lake and Little Tippy Lake on a day aimed to connect the students with their local water while having fun!
The students helped in simple experiments that discovered the pH, nitrates, oxygen, transparency, and temperature of the water and how they all factor in to the health of our local rivers and lakes.
“My favorite part was watching the green dye flow through the water,” said Charlotte a 5th grader at the school. “It showed us how the water moves and that was fun.”
The students also learned about macroinvertebrates, or big aquatic bugs, that help determine the health of the water. Many beautiful water creatures, like dragonflies and mayflies live most of their lives in the water before we even notice them. Some of the species can only tolerate cool, clear, oxygenated water, while others thrive in different conditions.
After collecting the critters the students were able to sort them based on their pollution-tolerance levels. A healthy river will have each category represented, but more will be from the group who are very intolerant of pollution. In the river the students found a fantastic combination, and determined that their spot on the river was in excellent health!
The morning culminated in each of the students receiving a poster of the macroinvertebrates and information with ways that they can help keep their waters cleaner. Each was also encouraged take a pledge at Indiana.ClearChoicesCleanWater.org.
The monitoring data collected will be entered into the state-wide Hoosier Riverwatch database which monitors the health of rivers and lakes all around Indiana with the help of citizen scientists. For more information on how you can become a Hoosier Riverwatch volunteer and help track the health of your own lake or stream, visit online.