Watch Northview High AP Environmental Studies students as they gather specimens and data from the Grand River as part of a water-quality monitoring project
Northview — Seniors Kyler Carlin and Trevor Buskard trekked from the parking lot of Grand Isle Park recently and made their way with about two dozen classmates down a winding trail to the Grand River.
It was stop two on a three-stop field trip to nearby bodies of water. Previously, the pair had donned waders and walked into the Rogue River.
“It was cool,” Trevor said. “We got to use our little net things to catch little creatures.”
Those creatures included macroinvertebrates, or water bugs whose presence indicate aquatic health, Kyler added. ‘
And by all appearances, a day in the water was a not-too-shabby way to do science.
Students took turns using nets, buckets and large, multi-person screens to try to find signs of life while in the water. On land, other groups sifted through the catch looking for mayflies, crayfish and skittering fresh-water, shrimp-like little beings known as scuds. Still others collected water samples.
“Students (last year) brought up the experience time and time again during our class discussions for the rest of the year, and I even had students bring examples of what we saw back to class months after the field trip,” teacher Charissa Kashian said. “It really solidified a ton of the water quality concepts we learn about.”
The project aligns with several parts of the curriculum for the year-long class, Kashian said, and some of the data collected will be added to previous years so students can see changes over time.
Data collected from the Rogue will be given to the Michigan Clean Water Corps, an organization that enlists mostly volunteers to conduct water quality monitoring and surveying. Activities included taking water samples to check for levels of phosphates and nitrates, both of which can be harmful to water in large amounts.
Matt Bain, an aquatic specialist with the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, was on hand to help students with the collection and analysis. “At some level, bioassessment is useful for students of any age,” Bain said. “It may be specifically beneficial for high school students as they decide their college careers. Most natural resource management and biology majors will need to develop a basic understanding of bioassessment during their undergrad careers, so this exercise will give them a leg up.”