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What Does Acid Rain Do to Aquatic Animals? (6-8 Science)

Students will be able to discover the effects acid rain can have on aquatic wildlife. Set up two 10 gallon aquariums, each one with a variety of aquatic organisms (snails, caddisfly larva, damselfly larva, algae, etc.). Try to make the numbers and types of organisms similar. Test the pH in both aquariums and record the data.

Keeping one tank as the control, maintain the pH at a constant level by adding new and siphoning off old water if necessary. The second aquarium is the variable. Every two days siphon off some water and add a small amount of dilute sulfurous acid (take the pH down at a rate of 0.5 pH each week) to the second tank. Observe which animals live and die at what pH level each one died. Make a table of pH tolerance for each organism and discuss what happened within each separate aquarium.

— Kent Wilkinson, West Valley Junior High School, Yakima WA

Nature’s Scavenger Hunt (6-8 Science)

Students will be asked to take a close look at the components of the river/pond ecosystem in detail. They will be able to locate and identify clues that help describe the overall ecosystem.

Break the class into small groups, each group receiving a pencil, notebook, field guides, a hand lens, and binoculars. Have one person record the answers and observations in a notebook. Stay on the tril, and don’t collect the items. The following is a scavenger hunt list with things to find, identify, or describe:

Identify or describe: two kinds of birds, three kinds of plants, two types of habitat, two types of leaves or needles from the tree, three colors you see.

Find: signs that animals are in the area, two signs that people have been there, something rough, something smooth, something that changes, something that stays the same, three non-living parts of the ecosystem, an example of Lichen, an example of fungus, something soft and spongy, something tall, a seed.

Describe: three different smells, two different sounds.

Locate: some bird nesting material.

Spend about 20 minutes on the hunt, and then discuss the discoveries. What was easy or difficult to find? Why? Have a discussion on ecosystems and how everything you found is part of an ecosystem.

— Lee Hunsperger, Pace Alternative School, Wapato WA

Clean a Stream (6-8 Social Studies)

After making preparatory arrangements, take the students to a stream where they can collect the litter in the stream (have students use gloves). Keep a tally of the trash collected, and then discuss the results with the students. Ask them what they would do if they saw someone throwing litter into the stream. Chances are, they would do something about it!

— Kent Wilkinson, West Valley Junior High School, Yakima WA

Shape a Watershed (6-8 Fine Arts/Science)

Describe a watershed to your students. Remind them that just as a toolshed has walls, a floor and a roof, so too does a watershed. Compare the parts of a toolshed to those of a watershed. Its walls are the sides of valleys and mountains, its floor bottomlands with streams, rivers, lakes, and its roof a ceiling of clouds.

Each student will create their own watershed. Crmple up a sheet of paper into a loose wad. Uncrumple the paper, leaving it about half bunched up.

Tape the edges of it onto a base sheet of paper, creating a miniature landscape.

Using water-soluable blue markers, gently shade the top of the ridges and divides. Have students guess where streams, rivers and lakes will form by tracing them in with a dark, fine-point marker.

Have students create rain by misting their paper watersheds with a spray bottle. Have them oserve where the water flows as the marker colors run “downslope.”

Did they correctly guess where streams, rivers and lakes would be? Where might they find wetlands on their models?

— Activity from “The Living River: An Educators Guide to the Nisqually River Basin”
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