Project Fish Bugs is an environmental education program for 12-18 year old kids. During four seasonal events and one night time survey Blue Ridge Discovery Center staff and volunteers connect kids with the outdoors through an engaging field survey and study of aquatic invertebrates. The lessons of the program extend into multiple disciplines of science, mathematics, language arts, fine arts and social studies. However, the most valuable reward for the kids participating in Project Fish Bugs is getting out of the classroom and directly interacting with local aquatic environments to gain personal knowledge and appreciation of our natural resources. With each seasonal event the survey crew is learning the ecology and morphology of aquatic invertebrates while conducting a sampling based on standard VA SOS methods. During each survey we set up a field station beside the aquatic environment and begin investigating with teams operating stream seines, dip nets and butterfly nets. The kids are taught scientific methods for collecting organisms in their natural environment while also giving them the freedom of exploration to discover the life forms for themselves. Activities include sketching observations in field notebooks, recording survey data on metric sheets, studying the underwater world with the Aqua Eye, analyzing the subjects through field microscopes, preserving specimens, and noting environmental conditions like temperature, weather and water levels. BRDC not only provides a guiding hand but also the invaluable observation and note taking tools that allow the kids to get closer to the subject. The night time survey is aimed at opening the imagination of the participants by exploring an aspect of aquatic invertebrates that we rarely interact with. During the heat of the summer the kids are brought together around a brightly illuminated sheet near the water source and are tasked to sample and study the mass of flying insects that show up at the light. This event allows students to interact with the adult forms of the aquatic invertebrates previously studied in their larval form. The lessons taught revolve around the complex life cycles and environmental influences of aquatic invertebrates.
The goals of Project Fish Bugs are to:
- Connect kids with their local environment
- Teach them about scientific methodology
- Help them gain an appreciation of aquatic habitats and life forms