Last Friday we went to a picnic at a nearby state park and decided to try out a naturalist’s program called stream safari. We gathered around a picnic table and the kids got to see what they might look for while on safari in the stream.
Boy did this take me back! Back to my days as a classroom teacher in Maryland. Every year our sixth graders spent a week at outdoor school (something I remember fondly from my own sixth grade year) and we’d help the teachers there teach about stream ecology among many other topics. What a good time it was to see our students having a good time at a week long residential camp and it was double fun because we got to leave our classroom a few days that week to enjoy it with them.
I also took a team of students out to a reservoir every year to monitor the water quality. This was part of a grant we had to report our findings and teach kids about watershed issues. That seems like a world ago now!
The kids got to take nets and hunt for critters. There was ample sampling of crayfish for sure as well as insect nymphs and larvae. We spotted stonefly, caddisfly, and mayfly nymphs all of which are indicators of excellent water quality. There were damselfly and dragonfly larvae- all things I bet most of you have never had the pleasure of discovering. The kids had fun wading and trying to net the animals. Even a few minnows came our way. We turned over lots of stones and had a grand time watching the crayfish hang out in the bucket.
Below are some pictures of our finds. R7 almost had a damselfly creep onto her finger, but she chickened out at the last minute! J2 got wildly soaked in the seat because a toddler bending over doesn’t clear even the shallowest of water. Thankfully, we had brought his bathing suit so he could change into it. Don’t ask about the logic there…let’s just say it wasn’t a super warm day to purposefully put a bathing suit on, but rest assured we’ve learned our lesson.by