Leafpacks and water quality—a highlight of her teaching career

Wendy Baker teaches a water quality unit to her 4th graders at Grover Hill Elementary each year, including Ohio Corn & Wheat sponsored-Feed The World water quality lessons in that unit.

To begin, Patrick Troyer from the Paulding County Soil and Water Conservation District came to Baker’s class to talk about macroinvertebrates. She said, “We walk to the stream where he uses swoop nets to bring some out for the kids to examine. In the following days we learn about the LEAFPACK network through Stroud Water Research and we create our leaf packs and put them in the stream.”

Baker said, “The day we remove the leaf packs from the stream is always the best day of my teaching career! The kids are INTO the classification of what they find in their leafpacks. It takes both class periods in a day and we classify and tally what we find, then analyze our data to find the score of our stream.” The students submit their data to the STROUD website to be viewed by a wide audience.

“It is always exciting when the kids find our stream is healthy! They really take ownership. They also love using microscopes and the tools this lab requires. It’s pretty advanced for 4th graders but the best part is that they take it so seriously and their “scientific attitude” is so genuine and inspiring! Last year my principal asked if I was recording this so he could take it to the school board—that’s how amazing the kids’ reactions to the experience were!”

Baker said the results showed a majority of level 2 macros and also specimens of levels 1 and 3. The water contained a high amount of sediment due to runoff from the freshly-worked fields. Some 5th and 6th graders measured the parameters of dissolved oxygen, phosphorous, nitrates, pH, sediment, and turbidity. The students used HACH and LaMotte kits along with a sediment stick and sechi disk to gather water data.

Baker said she would definitely recommend the Feed the World workshop to other educators. She appreciated the tour of POET Biorefining in Leipsic, which gave her new ideas and information for her alternative energy unit, as well as the water quality lessons and supplies from the workshop. Watch our website and email for information about upcoming Feed the World workshops and events!