Grade 6 Explores Hidden World of Stream and Forest Ecosystems
Streams hide an underwater world of organisms and ecosystems in a fantastically varied web of life and sixth-grade students put on their water shoes, grabbed their nets, and spent the afternoon exploring the waters of the Mill River in East Rock State Park for a hands-on science activity. The project focused on biodiversity sampling of stream and forest ecosystems.
The students were broken into two groups for the activities, one led by Lower School science teacher Emily Davies 2001 and sixth-grade teacher Andrea Calandrelli and the other led by teachers Beth Hunter and Patrick Yeoman. The students had been learning about macroinvertebrate and their tolerance of pollution as those organisms cannot easily escape from changes in water quality. However, some can tolerate low oxygen levels and high toxicity, which are known as pollution-tolerant species.
With Mrs. Davies and Mrs. Calandrelli, the students used the nets to collect rocks and clumps of dead leaves from the river stream before placing the remnants in plastic containers as part of the sample stations for observation. Using an identification key guide with information on the different categories of macroinvertebrates, the students searched among the debris and took note of what they collected including mayfly, dragonfly, and dobsonfly larvae. Mrs. Davies noted that these particular organisms are indicators of the health of the stream, as they differ in the tolerance for pollution.
With Mrs. Hunter and Mr. Yeoman, the students ventured into the woods to survey the tree and shrub biodiversity and collect different-shaped leaves that would be sorted and graphed in the classroom. Once the activity was completed, the groups switched to partake in the other activity before departing back to campus.
“The highlight of the afternoon was definitely an American eel - a fascinating fish that lives for years in freshwater streams before traveling thousands of miles to the Sargasso Sea in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to spawn,” said Mrs. Davies.
Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.