(Stream Explorers is offered in partnership between GARNA (Greater Arkansas Nature Association) and our chapter).

Our actual first session date got cancelled — Salida got almost 2′ of wet snow! The session was cancelled and the program moved forward a week. And a good thing — today was a warm sunny day.

The day started with Karen Dils introducing Trout Unlimited and their mission, Dominique Naccarato introducing GARNA and talking about their mission. Then Tom P. talked about the four sessions and what the students will be exploring and learning.

Today’s session was focused around stream ecology — we spent a good amount of time in the river. First we collected a lot of aquatic critters, by turning over rocks, by seining, and kicking up the bottom. The students looked at different kinds of waters in the river (eddies vs. fast current vs. stagnant pools), identified their bugs, looked at them under microscopes.

The anglers were surprised at how few caddis larvae we found — the vast majority of bugs were tiny olive mayfly larvae. We also found cranefly and stonefly larvae, and a sold red midge.

The students also measured water temperature.

After that we went back to the Scout Hut classroom and did some experiments with counting the rate of fish gill beats as compared to the water temperature. For this we used goldfish, and students put them into mason jars and added hot and cold water to change the temperatures. Take a look at the slideshow to see our final scatter plot showing the correlation.

Once we discussed the findings and conclusions, we all went back to the river to start assembling their micro habitats. Each student had a 2L soda bottle which they filled with rocks, sand, river water, some of the aquatic insects. They also put in some alodea plants (to produce oxygen) and a goldfish. They drew their habitats on paper, and took them home. Next week we’ll find out which habitats allowed the fish to survive — and start the second session with that!

Students also had a chance to make some necklaces with the aquatic bugs, using little plastic lab containers that we hung on string loops.

BIG THANK YOU to our volunteers today! Bill, Bryan, Dominique, Karen, Keith, Rich, and Tom!