Thursday, December 3, 2009

CFWEP Dives into 4-H Fun Day in Deer Lodge

On Thursday, October 15, over 60 students from seven Montana counties convened at Powell County High School in Deer Lodge for the annual 4-H Fun Day, and Lorna McIntyre and Matt Vincent were on hand to bring kids face-to-face with some of Montana’s water bugs. The Fun Day also offered classes on Hemp Necklaces, Dutch Oven Cooking, Let’s Look for Birds, Gold Panning, and No Bake Treats.

At the CFWEP class, kids of varying ages collected water bugs from Cottonwood Creek, a tributary of the Clark Fork River that flows into Deer Lodge from the Flint Mountains. Matt chatted with the kids about how scientists use aquatic insects as an indicator of stream health. After that, students put on rubber boots and headed to the creek to explore the different sampling methods used to collect the “macroinvertebrates”, or macros, as they are known is scientific circles.

The students’ ability to notice differences in macro morphology, or physical appearance, is the first step in understanding biological diversity. They identified many different types of aquatic macroinvertebrates, such as mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies and even planaria, a type of flatworm that can be tricky to properly identify.

The kids came away with a better understanding of the concept of biological diversity, and they had a blast finding and categorizing some of Montana’s smaller wildlife.

-Lorna McIntyre

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