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A year of hanging out at the creek, need ideas


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We're going to start an ongoing creek science thing. We'll be spending the year at a few different creeks doing things like testing water (for what? I don't know :), I just saw that they sell kits for this :001_smile:), keeping a journal, reading some books, etc.

I don't want to turn it into a big thing, and the creeks are all close to home. But I do want to have a lot of fun and interesting things to do and experiment with.

So what would you bring, and buy? Is there something really cool we should read, do, or take notice of? We'll probably hit one creek per week.

 

Last year we did a journal for the garden, and it was such a gratifying experience. By the time the school year ended, we had gotten to know so much about the little world in our back yard. I can't wait to do the same with the creeks.

 

Thanks

:bigear:

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We're going to start an ongoing creek science thing. We'll be spending the year at a few different creeks doing things like testing water (for what? I don't know :), I just saw that they sell kits for this :001_smile:), keeping a journal, reading some books, etc.

I don't want to turn it into a big thing, and the creeks are all close to home. But I do want to have a lot of fun and interesting things to do and experiment with.

So what would you bring, and buy? Is there something really cool we should read, do, or take notice of? We'll probably hit one creek per week.

 

Last year we did a journal for the garden, and it was such a gratifying experience. By the time the school year ended, we had gotten to know so much about the little world in our back yard. I can't wait to do the same with the creeks.

 

Thanks

:bigear:

 

I would assume that the testing kits are for pH but I could be wrong.

 

In 3rd grade we went to this little creek in a park here, and it was amazing. We took samples and looked at all the different species of algae and stuff under a microscope. A few kids fell in, but other than that it was fun.

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I know that in Indiana the Dept of fish and wildlife asks people to volunteer to do creek studies of the water ways around them. I have a friend who got all the equipment and still does them since she moved here to KY. It was fascinating to do this with her. She had the dc measure oxygen levels in different seasons and whatnot, see how manure runoff affected the creeks, etc.

 

Have fun!

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Get someone who does Apologia Biology on the high school board to tell you about the creek water (or pond water) experiment--You put different things in each of 4 baby food jars and grow different organisms. I know rice and hay are two of them. You can see the organisms under the microscope after maybe a week or two.

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Pick the same spot in one creek and take a picture once a month for the year (try to do it around the same time of the month every month). Then you can see how the creek changed over time and try to track changes, etc.

 

Make plaster of paris casts of animal prints found near the creek. Try to find drier areas to do this in since the casts will set up better.

 

Take a monthly water sample and look at it under the microscope. Draw what you see and track changes in microscopic wildlife.

 

Press flowers and leaves collected along the banks throughout the year.

 

Make recordings of bird songs and try to identify the birds in the creek area. Are there birds near the creek that you don't see/ hear near your house? Why?

 

Take the temperature of the water every month (or better, every week) as well as the air temp. Make a graph of the two temps to track them through the year and see if/ how air temperature affects water temperature.

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Look for benthic macroinvertebrates:

 

In healthy environments you may find:

waterpenny

caddisfly larva

mayfly larva/nymph

right-handed snail

stonefly larva/nymph

mussels

black fly larva

dobsonfly larva

 

in a more polluted/degraded stream you will find:

left-handed snail

rattailed maggot

blood worm midge larva

 

You can set up a neighborhood replica & discuss pollution & how it affects the watershed, which in turn affects the surrounding environment & wildlife

 

Make a salt-dough replica of your favorite creekbed and label all the habitats that exist within.

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This was going to be my first suggestion too. I love studying macroinvertebrates in different bodies of water.

 

Also, we bought an inexpensive water quality testing kit from World Water Monitoring Day for $13 and it has enough supplies to do 50 tests.

 

Study watersheds and what the creeks run into. Other creeks? Rivers?

 

Learn about aquatic plants in, near, around the creeks.

 

 

 

Look for benthic macroinvertebrates:

 

In healthy environments you may find:

waterpenny

caddisfly larva

mayfly larva/nymph

right-handed snail

stonefly larva/nymph

mussels

black fly larva

dobsonfly larva

 

in a more polluted/degraded stream you will find:

left-handed snail

rattailed maggot

blood worm midge larva

 

You can set up a neighborhood replica & discuss pollution & how it affects the watershed, which in turn affects the surrounding environment & wildlife

 

Make a salt-dough replica of your favorite creekbed and label all the habitats that exist within.

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Two books that popped into my head when I read the thread title are Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard and Walden by Thoreau. Since they are not really children's books you may want to just read them yourself for ideas of what others have done while observing creek/pond life. They may spark suggestions for activities, and perhaps you might find whole chapters or at least some passages that you could read aloud to your children. I'm sure Dillard's book has some excellent writing examples you could incorporate into language arts. One of the wonderful things about both books is that they simply validate the idea of studying a small segment of nature over an extended period of time.

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turn over rocks and logs and see what is under them. look for scat and tracks at watering holes and see if you can figure out what is drinking there. compare the water levels for different times of year.

 

Make maps of where the creek originates and what larger bodies of water it joins with.

 

Call your local water department and ask them if you can observe their lab. My dh is a civil engineer at a municipal water company and they have an awesome lab. They not only test water in the plants, but after storms cause sewage overflows, they go out and test the creeks to see how much sewage ended up in the streams and creeks.

 

Compare pollutants. Many people think of large industrial plants as pollutants, but runoff from people's yards who have just fertilized their grass, runoff from parking lots, runoff from cow fields, and wild animal feces pollute the water just as much as industry.

 

(Can you see why I never swim in creeks and rivers? When you have a dh who works at water dept. you learn exactly HOW dirty water can be.)

 

do you have a canoe?

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You could see how fast the water is flowing. Mark off a certain distance and then throw a stick in at the beginning point and time how long it takes to get to the end point and figure out ft./sec. flow rate. You could do that at different times of the year. I used to do that with my 7th graders when we walked down to the river when I taught science.

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We did a year-long pond study and it was lovely. We enjoyed it so much! We still go pond-dipping from time to time.

 

Magnifying glasses! Plastic tweezers, yogurt cups. A pair of binoculars. A ruler or a measuring tape. Go to a pet store and buy a couple little mesh nets from the fish section. They are perfect for catching minnows and water bugs.

 

I put many of our supplies into a 5"x8" clear plastic bin with a lid. When we arrived at the pond, I'd dump the supplies onto a blanket and the bin doubled as a little mini-pond for our critters.

 

Also a bug net and several bug jars and a bird book will be lovely. Ponds and creeks are wonderful places to bug hunt and bird watch.

 

And hand sanitizer, especially if you plan to picnic by the creek.

 

Have fun!

 

Cat

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You can also do a discussion on the different types of flooding. Flash vs. river flooding.

Help the Red Cross build some kits for flood victims. We lost our home in a flash flood form the creek we lived next to so am very familiar with this aspect.

I know my children really enjoyed knowing that they were helping others by building these kits.

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Oh Helena, what an inspiring idea!

Can you tell us more about the garden journals please? I can just imagine if I suggested my kids journal our garden they would say that there was nothing to draw/write.

We have a lovely wetlands just down the road, I love the idea of observing it for a year.

 

I wasn't sure if there would be much to write about either. :)

First I ordered these amazing (14"/11") blank page journals, the pages are nice and thick. http://www.waldorfsupplies.com/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/psstone/store/agora.cgi?product=Lesson_Books_and_Paper&xm=on

 

Ordered mostly flower seeds from this company: http://www.groworganic.com/, which started an ongoing conversation about seeds, seed banks, heirloom, etc.

 

Started by planting seeds, cutting open the packets and gluing them into the journal, glue a couple of the seeds next to the packet, wrote in date and area of the garden they were planted.

 

After that it was a year of casually writing in progress (or lack of), sometimes they dictated the writing, sometimes they wrote it in themselves, sometimes i wrote my own observations, thoughts, and predictions. Sometimes it would be a long poetic description, sometimes it was a single word like "nothing", but always dated and written in different colors using extra fine sharpies (kept it bright and easy to follow). Next to each packet, we glued in its pressed leaves and flowers, and photos of the plants at different stages.

 

In the end there was a little a little of everything. It was very hodge podge, colorful, and messy (yet organized :tongue_smilie:). We really felt the awe of a full year with these seeds. The last thing we did at the end of the school year, and into summer, was harvest the seeds for this year. It was so awesome.

And easy!

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