May 31, 2019

Aquatic Ecology Interactive Presentation for Fifth Graders

Article by Molly Tilley (MSc student, Goater lab, University of Lethbridge)

On Friday we packed up our field gear, all the swamp critters we had collected in the days before, and headed to Sunridge wetland. We had time to set up our display pieces and quickly explore the area before the first of the four groups of 25 5th graders arrived. Dr. Cam Goater started it off by engaging the kids with the surroundings: What do you see? Hear? Smell? The point of which was to orient them to critically analyze special features of the wetland: the biotic and abiotic, the flora and fauna. There were plenty of yellow-headed blackbird, mallard ducks, and coots that quickly grabbed their attention. Of course, the kids had plenty of entertaining answers to his questions.

Next, we split the kids into groups which were led by myself, Cam, Sarah, and Micky, where each of us combed through a sweep net sample taken from the wetland. The kids pointed out different invertebrates in the water, and we helped identify them, adding in little tidbits of information about each.  We then showed them the samples we had collected from other sites which included some juvenile pike, large dragonfly larvae, and large predatory leeches. This portion was arguably the highlight, as the kids were, surprisingly, very excited to hold the large leeches despite the screaming that followed once they were in hand. All in all, the kids were interested and engaged in the activities, and they probably learned something new.