Macon Middle School Projects

Riparian Zone Vegetation Study
Since fall of 1997, this ongoing study at Coweeta has been the monitoring of effectiveness of restoration efforts along tributaries of the Little Tennessee River. North Carolina Standard Course of Study Objectives met by: Riparian Structure and Function Schoolyard Activity.

Gradient Leaf Litter Collection, November
This Schoolyard LTER project focuses on nutrient cycling and the role of litterfall in that cycle.

Gradient Leaf Litter Sorting, December
On this trip, students weigh and sort the litter that they had collected from the LTER gradient plots and are given a tour of the chemistry laboratory at Coweeta.

Weather Overview and Internet Uses, January
In the first component of this class students learn about high pressure and low-pressure weather systems, how they differ in rotation and vertical movement, and the dynamics of air exchange between them. Students learn about the role of the oceans, polar caps, and events such as El Nino on the Earths weather patterns. The second component of this class is to familiarize students with the capabilities of the internet and graphics software for researching, displaying and comparing different sets of weather data, and performing basic statistical analyses on long term weather trends.

Macon County Health Department Water Quality Presentation
Instructors from the Macon County Health Department lead an interactive and lively presentation designed to lead the students to understanding of where the water comes from and goes to in their own homes. The students learn about wells and springs, septic systems, and methods used by environmental health professionals to design and inspect such systems.

Carbon Flux and GPS Project, March
For this activity, the students work in a young cove hardwood site in watershed 7. The students use two of the Coweeta ADC LCA-4 infrared gas analyzers to measure CO2 concentration in ambient air and air in the specialized chambers attached to the trees. They also measure sapwood temperature, soil temperature, and the tree diameter at breast height.

Stream Macroinvertebrate Survey, April
Freshwater macroinvertebrates are often inventoried as indicators of stream health. One current project at Coweeta is an ongoing study of the effectiveness of riparian zone restoration at the Killian farm site along Cartoogechaye Creek near Franklin, NC. Scientists are researching a number of factors affected by the restoration work, which was a combination of cattle exclusion, reseeding eroded areas, and installation of tree root wad revetments. Although Coweeta’s study does not include macroinvertebrate counts, we thought the leaf pack inventory would be a relevant exercise for the middle grade students.

Fish Inventory, May
In May, the final session of the Macon Middle School Schoolyard LTER group meets for a fish shocking survey, followed by a picnic with all the supporting families.