Maryland Streams – Teaching Resources
(1) Biological Assessment of Stream Health
Looking at biological indicators of stream quality is different for freshwater and saltwater habitats.
For freshwater streams– macroinvertebrates as indicators
Conducting a biological assessment involves capturing and identifying macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects and their larvae, and more), which serve as indicators of the health of freshwater streams. Macroinvertebrates are part of the aquatic food web, are easy to collect without expensive equipment and provide information about the quality of a stream over long periods of time. Data obtained by macroinvertebrate sampling can indicate the need for additional data collection, such as water chemistry analysis. Different living indicators are needed for streams that have brackish or salt water.
Recommended reference with background ecology information and field guide: Voshell,Jr., J. Reese. A Guide to Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. Mc Donald & Woodward Publishing Co. Blacksburg, VA. 2002.
- Chesapeake Bay FieldScope – National Geographic Society’s web-based mapping, analysis, and collaboration tool. See listing above for more information. This is where you will upload stream data collected by students, and where you can find additional data to use in the classroom.
- Preparing for Field Investigation – Students consider what it means to be citizen scientists, learn how notes and photographs can enhance a field investigation, and review techniques for choosing and recording sampling locations.
- Collecting Data in the Field – Students measure water quality and document local conditions in the field in order to focus on parameters that can illustrate something about the health or degradation of a waterway.
- FieldScope data collection protocols – Suggested protocols for collecting water quality and macroinvertebrate data. Using standard protocols and procedures helps assure that more comparable data is collected among different groups and at various sites.
- Data sheet – Use this data sheet to record your chemical water quality and macroinvertebrate data while you are out in the field.
- Save Our Streams (SOS), Izaak Walton League of America is a national clean-water education and outreach program, with a program in Maryland. Educators and citizen scientists can find information here about Biological Stream Monitoring, Water Quality Monitoring, Monitoring Equipment, and Stream Enhancement and Restoration, and a variety of publications. Many other teaching resources, including FieldScope, use SOS data sheets, macroinvertebrate key, and protocols.
- TEAM DNR (Teaching Environmental Awareness in Maryland) is a volunteer program dedicated to educating elementary and middle school students about the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resource issues in Maryland. Trained volunteers visit schools to provide lessons, including an in-school stream module and outdoor stream field investigation. Stream bioassessement - macroinvertebrate identification sheet.
- Macroinvertebrate Ecology, Maryland State Envirothon – includes background information on benthic macroinvertebrates and the stream community, insect anatomy, explanation of different sampling methods.
- Bridging the Watershed is a program of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) and area schools, designed to promote student academic achievement and environmental stewardship through hands-on curriculum-based outdoor studies in national parks and public lands. Lesson modules with background information are available online as well as park-specific curriculum units, to prepare students for their field studies and provide guidance for data analysis after a field study. AFF provides lesson plans, in-school visits, guided field experiences, and teacher professional development opportunities. Curriculum modules; Stream macroinvertebrate identification.
- Bridging the Watershed interactive macroinvertebrate study for elementary students, and the lesson plan. This can be done in the classroom before a field study experience to introduce the concepts that will be practiced in the field.
- Bridging the Watershed correlations to state standards; Hard Bargain Farm grade 3-5 correlations to state standards.
- Montgomery County Public Schools Stream / Pond Study: Students investigate the local watershed and work in groups to assess the health of a nearby stream or pond using various indicators. Stream study lesson plan, data collection sheet (includes chemical and physical parameters), and macroinvertebrate identification key from Save Our Streams.
- Stream Science: Investigating Water Quality, Macroinvertebrate Survey & Stream Habitat Assessment(lesson materials from GreenKids program, Audubon Naturalists Society). Students conduct water quality monitoring of a local stream near their school and produce educational brochures about protecting local water quality. This site includes lessons for use before, during, and after visiting the stream.
- World Water Monitoring Challenge – World Water Monitoring Day helps watershed leaders, educators and trained volunteers to educate students and citizens how the actions of individuals in a watershed can impact environmental quality and human health. Includes guides, lesson plans and data sheets from Project WET on water quality monitoring (how to design a study); biological, chemical and physical parameters; cumulative impacts in a watershed (sources of pollution); and graphic data and analyzing trends in water quality.
- The Stream Study – University of Virginia (based on Izaak Walton League of America’s Save Our Streams Program) – provides a method to determine the water quality of a stream based on the collection and identification of stream-bottom macroinvertebrates, and includes an online interactive macroinvertebrate identification key with practice samples and additional resources.
- Be Part of Something Big!: Curriculum guide designed for Grades 3-8, provides educators and students the opportunity to gain hands-on experiences with water quality monitoring, to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Includes lessons about streams and tributaries, their chemical and biological characteristics, how to assess a stream, and action strategies students can take to improve water quality in their local streams.
- Benthic Macroinvertebrate Portal for learning about and identifying stream-bottom macroinvertebrates, from the Cacapon Institute.
- NASA GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) water chemistry testing protocols. Students and scientists investigate hydrology through the collection of data using measurement protocols and using instruments which meet certain specifications in order to ensure that data are comparable. Learning activities aid in the understanding of important scientific concepts, the understanding of data and data collection methodologies. Includes macroinvertebrate sampling.
For brackish or salt water streams and creeks
- Watershed Watchdogs – Monitoring Coastal Bay Health through Bioinventory and Monitoring and accompanying Biomonitoring and Water Quality Field Data Sheet for coastal estuarine (saltwater) sites. (lesson coming soon!)
- Monitoring Estuarine Water Quality – NOAA Data in the Classroom – chemical water quality testing for brackish water/estuaries – includes five activities designed for grades 6-8 that incorporate real data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- EPA Volunteer Estuary Monitoring Manual. Unit 3 covers Biological Measures.