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Studying the Roaring Fork Watershed with Aspen Elementary School 4th Grade

Posted in Kids' Corner

You turn on the tap to wash your hands at Aspen Elementary School.  Where does that water come from?  It goes down the drain mixed with soap and dirt.  Where does it go?  How can we find out if the water in our local rivers, lakes, snow, plants, and soil is healthy and clean?

This past fall, 4th Grade "ACES Science" class at AES explored these questions.  From the Water Cycle to water quality testing, conservation methods to sources of pollution, students have pursued a deeper understanding of the Roaring Fork Watershed and the ecological communities within it.

The culmination of this unit (aside from the day we played Watershed Jeopardy in class) was a field trip to the Roaring Fork River near Hallam Lake.  Each student worked in a group of 4 or 5 to collaboratively create and test a hypothesis relating to the health of the river.  Available materials included thermometers, pH tape, dissolved oxygen tablets, meter sticks, secchi disks for measuring turbidity, and stop watches and 10-foot strings for velocity experiments.  Some students searched for macroinvertebrates and other biological signs to inform their research.  Data sheets aside, each of the 6 classes had a memorable experience: spending 4 hours in the river in mid-October is an adventure no matter how you spin it!

  



Here is some thought-provoking data analysis from our 4th Grade water scientists, after completing their Roaring Fork River field trip:

"I think the river is healthy because I found a stonefly nymph and those can't live in polluted water."

"I am not sure if the river is healthy because the pH was 6 and that is lower than normal."

"I think the water is healthy because it is clear and there are lots of plants and animal tracks on the bank!  I would like to [do the same tests] in Basalt and Glenwood Springs to see if it is different."

~ Denali Barron, ACES Educator