The 7th grade science curriculum at Bosque School is a field-based, citizen science curriculum focused on studying three separate streams in the Rio Grande watershed. How do we maintain this experience when we can't pile our students into the Bosque mini-buses for a road trip to Las Huertas Creek? Or worse, when we all are in full remote learning and having to Zoom into science class? Fortunately, we work with innovative educators like Rich Schrader and Carlos Herrera of River Source, the organization that coordinates the Watershed Watch program central to the 7th grade science experience.
Earlier this month, Rich and Carlos hosted a data summary and analysis workshop for all four sections of 7th grade science students. Using data from the 20+ years of records collected by generations of Bosque citizen scientists, the 7th graders learned how to calculate and interpret summary statistics like range, mean, median, and mode and how to graph and interpret patterns from this extensive database. Later in the week, Carlos led virtual field trips to the Rio Grande just below the Hwy 550 bridge in Bernalillo. Braving the bitterly cold air and water temperatures, not to mention a brisk breeze, Carlos led the students through a typical day of field data collection while we all watched from the comfort of our heated homes. One of the virtual field trip highlights was the collection and identification of macroinvertebrates from the river. The Bosque students were able to compare the results of each of the water quality tests conducted by Carlos in the Rio Grande to the same tests the students had completed with water samples from the Bosque pond and ditch when we were still in the hybrid model. The students also observed an entirely different community of macroinvertebrates in the river than their collection of macroinvertebrates in the Bosque pond.
While not quite the same experience as being in the river ourselves, the students learned two new testing procedures and impressed Carlos with their understanding of pH, turbidity, and macroinvertebrate identification skills. One advantage of the virtual field trip? No students fell into the river. (Though Carlos did drop his cell phone in the water!)