Friday, November 11, 2017, Ms. Blankenship's 7th graders from Fries School joined Blue Ridge Discovery Center's staff & volunteers for a day of Aquatic Adventure. Students rotated between stations set up along the New River, just below the school, and participated in citizen science activities.
The stations focused on different aquatic areas. They studied the macro-invertebrates of the New River and a small creek feeding the river. Water quality testing was completed on both the river and the creek.
All groups collected aquatic insects using seines. In order to do this, two students would hold the seine while two would scrape the substrate and turn over rocks for one minute. The specimens were then taken to a table for separation and identification using a dichotomous key. Water quality testers observed the weather, water flow, turbidity, and temperature of the air and water. They also measured pH, dissolved oxygen, and E. coli. of both the river and creek.
The New River was full of aquatic insects; most abundant being three different species of damselfly larva. The creek presented the students with a chub, salamander, and over 30 snails! The water quality was found to be similar with the exception of the pH of the river being higher than that of the creek.
Regardless of the cool temps and wind, students and staff had a great day!