BRIDGES Trainees instruct students in river science

Picture of students in river

BRIDGES trainees lead students in river science learning in collaboration with Watershed Education Network

From the Missoulian article October 22, 2018

Students from St. Joseph’s Middle School pulled on waders and walked through the Clark Fork River last week during a field trip to learn about river stewardship.

The group of seventh-graders visited Clark Fork Natural Park with members of the Watershed Education Network and St. Joseph’s seventh- and eighth-grade Earth science teacher, Mike Crockett. Rotating through three stations, the students learned how to evaluate the health of the river by collecting bugs, monitoring water quality and measuring the height and velocity of the river.

At the first station, students ventured into the river with nets and bins to collect bugs. “Go with the flow of the river,” said Carter Finegan, an education coordinator for Watershed. “Kick your feet to stir up the sediment and do a little dance. That way you’ll get a better sample.”

At another station, students collected water samples in glass jars and vials. Seventh-grader Taylor Jones held a small container of water as Ava Bellamah added droplets to test the pH level, which determines the acidity of the water. The station was led by UM BRIDGES trainee and chemist, Brian Stampe. 

At the last station, students measured the width and depth of the river using a cross-section line, or a tape measure stretched across the stream with another line underneath. They also measured velocity by calculating the time it took for a tennis ball to float downstream to the end of another tape measure.

“We’ll have the distance which is in feet and the time which is in seconds,” said Dave Ketchum, a UM BRIDGES trainee studying systems ecology. “So we’ll have feet per second, which will be the rate or the velocity of the stream.”