Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best way to relax after a busy week? River Monitoring!

What happens when you mix a couple cups of water with an assortment of bugs and a batch of 6th graders at 67ish degrees for 2 hours? A fabulous Bonner field trip! ….and that’s all it took to turn a stressful school week into a happy Friday. Who wants to sit in a library writing up reports when there is an opportunity to listen to a kid try to explain how gills work? As one Bonner student put it, “Fish breathe with gills in their neck – like lungs only with water.” Sure, but what happens when they find out that mayfly gills are not on their neck. “Whoa! You mean they breathe from their butt?!” Well, not exactly their butt. *review head, thorax, abdomen* Yes, the biological station is always filled with exceptional comments and critiques. At the end, which was their favorite bug – “Mayflies, they swim like mermaids” and what did they learn – “That there are a lot of different things living in the water.” And we saw plenty of diversity (yes, word of the day) in our samples: lots of stoneflies, mayflies, a few caddis flies, a crayfish, and a tiny fish about the size of your small finger. It always amazes me how much these kids learn and remember. I always like to ask them what they learned from the previous station(s) and they don’t even hesitate in answering and sometimes they beat me to the end of the question. "What is the veloc-"-"3.2 feet per second"! "And what about dissolved ox"-"10 drops"! How’s that for efficiency? They waste no time, especially if they see a pair of waders. But equally important in helping these amazing kids learn about the awesomeness of the stream monitoring. A big part of the fieldtrip success is WEN's awesomely awesome team with Josh and Molly and me! They made this field trip even more amazing, like the cherry on the top of an ice cream cone, or like finding a grumpy little someone in their little stone case! …and you all keep asking why I’m still volunteering.

  Al Pack
WEN Volunteer since 2007

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