RAYMOND — Seventh grade students at Iber Holmes Gove Middle School are gaining a newfound understanding of a local river thanks to a year-long project studying organisms that live there.
Students are studying the Lamprey River through the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Watershed Education Program, which allows students to learn about their local watershed by collecting organisms, and testing and studying them. Watershed Education Specialist Judy Tumosa has also worked with Iber Holmes Gove educators since 2005 to train them to set up and establish tanks in their classrooms to house organisms students collect from the river. Educators also apply for an annual permit from the state to collect species from the river with their classes.
“This program is an essential asset in connecting our own environment to what students are learning in the classroom,” said Mary Colburn, a science teacher at the school. “We are creating lessons that are relevant and meaningful with the hopes the students see a connection to their own backyards while fostering an inquiring mind about science.”
All seventh grade students at the school collected organisms from the river this fall after learning about the history of the Lamprey River, as well as the importance of macroinvertebrates for determining the health of the river and population dynamics. Students went to the river in groups of 20, wearing neoprene waders with buckets and nets.The students sought to collect a variety of specimens in order to create a simulation of the Lamprey River ecosystem back in the classroom to further observe and reflect upon.
“Students are surprised at all that is hidden in the water,” Colburn said. “Most students know that you can find fish and tadpoles, but they found dragonfly larvae, crayfish, mayfly larvae and more. They found it incredibly exciting, and have been fascinated as we continue to study the specimen we collected.”
Seventh grade students will continue to studying the behaviors, interactions and dynamics of the organisms they have collected as part of an ecosystem unit in their science classes. Students will also analyze and interpret data, develop models, construct arguments and hone a deeper understanding of resources, the cycling of matter and the flow of energy in ecosystems.
This year, students will also consider biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem and the effects these factors have on a population, and they will additionally evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
To learn more about the Watershed Education Program, visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us/education/watershed.