Investigating Macroinvertebrates

Water ecoSTEM Kit Materials Used: Dip Nets & Posters, Petri Dishes, Mesh from GREEN Water Quality Test Kits

ENGAGE - Students Observe This Phenomenon


GATHER Energy Investigations


graphic organizer summarizing learning process for this activity

EXPLORE a Kit-Supported Learning Experience

Students will collect a water sample from a creek bottom to find macroinvertebrates that live there; identify each species using the Stroud Center’s Macroinvertebrate Guide and Key; and classify them as pollution-sensitive, pollution-tolerant or in-between, based on known tolerances. The more pollution-sensitive species (and individuals) the healthier the stream. For details, check out this information.


This Water Canaries activity engages students in graphing and charting data from previous macroinvertebrate sampling, to clarify the connection between the presence of indicator species and presumed water quality. Ray Sword’s Name that Bug online game helps reinforce macroinvertebrate ID skills.


Students may design and build macroinvertebrate sampling equipment such as nets, kick seines, or  leaf-pack traps. Useful materials for this engineering design challenge include mesh bags, wire hangers, dowels, screen, tulle, cheesecloth, duct tape, binder clips, clothespins, large needles and twine, etc.


Students play a simulation game called Macroinvertebrate Mayhem, and learn how environmental stressors affect “indicator species” to reveal the health of a stream. Students should be able to explain why an organism’s pollution-sensitivity makes it an indicator of a stream’s health, identify environmental stressors, and recognize that behaviors acted out in the game (p. 9) represent behaviors observed in the phenomenon films: adaptations to increase oxygen.



After making sense of a core idea by engaging in science or engineering practices through the lens of crosscutting concepts, students revise their original explanations of a phenomenon.


Students propose solutions and choose a project to enhance stream habitat and water quality (Manual pp 38 for ideas)