2011 marks the first year of Plouffe Academy’s study into the ecosystem outside its building. Plouffe Academy is part of the Brockton School district and located in the heart of the city. We began our investigation in October of 2011 with 4 dedicated 6th graders who collected macroinvertebrates from 2 sites in Trout Brook. Working after school, our young scientists also observed, measured and recorded physical data of the sites and surrounding riparian zone. The purpose of the study was to evaluate water quality and ascertain differences and similarities between the 2 sites. Site 1 was a rocky site closest to a busy street. Site 2 was located upstream with 40-50% macrophyte coverage.
In the classroom, the students mastered excel and created graphs to illustrate stream profile and flow rates enabling them to compare and contrast the sites chosen. Through the use of dichotomous keys, students identified and counted the collected bugs into major groups. Using established tolerances, the Major Group Biotic Index was calculated and stream quality evaluated. In addition to the hands-on stream experience, students also researched the Taunton Watershed and macroinvertebrates collected at the sites. In particular, the students identified and researched hydropsychidae, a family of Trichoptera, to establish connections between their large numbers in the stream and stream characteristics and quality.
Through this project, students have become concerned over the water quality in Trout Brook. It is our hope to raise awareness of this issue and continue to monitor the stream.