Friday, May 27, 2011

WHS Creek Studies

Students sample for benthic macro invertebrates
 Students got their feet wet this week as they participated in this semesters River Study Curriculum.  WHS teacher David Phillips coordinated about 200 students to participate in the water studies this semester.  Working with community partners; National Committee for the New River, Appalachian State University, Watauga County Cooperative Extension, ENV Consulting and Brushy Fork Environmental the students had a well rounded learning experience in the creek and river.  The new high school location has great access to Hardin Creek and the New River where students learn hands on about water quality. 

Students measure the physical characteristics of the creek
 During this spring semester, students measured the physical characteristics of Hardin Creek with ASU Professor, Dr. Gabrielle Katz, where they learned about erosion and changes that occur in the creek due to runoff.   Her graduate students surveyed the creek channel; dimension, pattern and profile for data showing how the creek has changed over time.  The information is very helpful to determine stream bank loss and channel changes.Students also measured velocity, did a trash pick up, and helped the National Committee for the New River plant native vegetation along the River.

Nice brown trout caught during sampling
ASU Professor, Dr. Shea Tuberty also lent his expertise on fish that inhabit the New River and Hardin Creek.  Graduate students studied three reaches of Hardin Creek and Tuberty shared the data with students via power point in the auditorium.  After viewing the data, students were able to help and observe a fish shocking proceedure during one of their class periods with Tuberty.  The quantities and species of fish found in the creek give scientists a picture of whats going on with the ecological balance in the creek. 

Jessica and Sean getting the supplies ready
 Finally students got to sample for benthic macroinvertebrates in the creek and river. These indicator species show us that there are definite impacts on Hardin Creek as it flows to the New River behind the school.  Thanks to volunteers Sean Martin of ENV Consulting, and Jessica Pleasants of Brushy Fork Environmental Consulting for working with the kids on insect identification and collection.  Looking forward to continuing the studies next fall when school starts back.

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