Scientists in Schools

Students study stream health

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  • John Chapman, Cooma Public School, Cooma, New South Wales
  • Felicity Collins, Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority (CMA)

This newly formed rural partnership took their first school field trip together to a local stream to study the quality of the water and the aquatic animal population.

Year 6 students from Cooma Public School took part in a stream survey of Cooma Creek with teacher John Chapman and Murrumbidgee CMA Catchment Officer, Felicity Collins. Felicity enlisted the help of Tanya Rucosky Noakes from ACT Waterwatch, a water quality monitoring program that works to raise awareness within local communities about the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Examining specimen in
magnifying box

Tanya and students collecting samples

Tanya explained to the students about the importance of monitoring the health of the stream, and how healthy streams are necessary to sustain vegetation, invertebrates, fish, and ultimately humans.

John, Felicity and students examining the catch

Tanya helps students identify bugs

Buckets and nets were used by the students to collect and analyse samples from the stream. Using bug identification sheets, the students then looked for macroinvertebrates that were either tolerant or intolerant to pollution, as an indicator of the health of the stream.

The students were also asked to think about what they could do to learn to take care of their local waterways and protect their environment.

Students carry out bug analysis and identification