Habitat for Stream Insects

This activity encourages students to collect data to answer questions, explore the roles of individual macroinvertebrates in aquatic ecosystems, and think about the health of aquatic ecosystems relative to the macroinvertebrates found.

Note: This lesson takes place at a stream where students sample macroinvertebrates. Alternatively, components of this lesson may work with access to stream data collected by someone and shared with students. Consider connecting with a local watershed association or watershed ambassador for assistance with this lesson.

Eben G. Fine Park - Boulder, CO

Eben G. Fine Park - Boulder, CO Photo credit: Dave Dugdale

Goals Header
What Students Will Do

  • Collect the data to answer questions
  • Analyze data for patterns and to answer questions


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  • Activity 1 – Engagement (15 minutes) Introduction to Habitat Patterns

Students conduct initial observations and learn how a dichotomous key is used to identify organisms.

  • Activity 2 – Exploration (40 minutes) Stream Sampling

Groups of students sample two different sites along the stream.

  • Activity 3 – Explanation (10 minutes) Review of Organisms Found 

Students discuss as a class the types of organisms were found at each of their sampling locations. 

  • Activity 4 - Evaluation and Wrap-up (25 minutes) Data Analysis and Final Questions  

Construct a simple summary table for the data and have the students answer some follow up questions about the lesson. 


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