Eighth grade students from Macon County got their feet and hands wet in the first annual "Kids in the Creek" field day at the Macon County Recreation Park. The students took a hands-on approach to learning more about Cartoogechaye Creek, which runs through the park and serves as the drinking water source for the town of Franklin. Students tested the chemistry of the creek water, checking the water for pH, phosphates, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. They also learned about bioindicators and worked with aquatic biologists to capture and id stream macroinvertebrates and fish to gauge the health of the watershed. Finally, the students used an orange, stopwatch, and meter stick to assess the discharge, or how much volume of water was moving past a given point in Cartoogechaye Creek every second.
The event was funded by a Section 319 Non-point Source Pollution Control grant and as well as from a supplemental grant from the National Science Foundation to the Coweeta LTER Schoolyard program. Biologists from Coweeta LTER, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Division of Water Quality, NC Natural Heritage Program, and Land Trust for the Little Tennessee lead the activities for the students. These activities met the NC Essential Standards for the 8th grade science curricula. Over 250 students from Macon Middle School, Highlands School, Nantahala School, Trimont Christian Academy, and Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School attended the event, which was held over the course of four days.
A short blog about this event can be found at the Appalachian Trail Communities website: http://atcommunities.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/kids-creek-science-fun/