“I got it! I got it!” said a 7th grade student upon collecting a Dragonfly Nymph. Armed with nets and collection boxes, she and her classmates sleuthed through the sediment and trickling waters of various tributaries of the San Lorenzo River. They often surprised themselves when their patience and observation rewarded them with a glimpse of these small “canaries of the waters”.

Benthic Macroinvertebrates are indicators of pollution in a stream and are a wonderful hands-on way to assess the health of local streams while practicing their identification and observation skills. Students at San Lorenzo Valley Middle School, New Brighton Middle School and Branciforte Middle School explored local creeks over the past month to collect and identify mayflies, dragonflies, and dobsonflies nymphs.

Through the hands-on exploration their watershed, these students learned to understand the importance of these aquatic organisms in the food web and to river health. After being carefully observed by the students, the dragonfly nymph was carefully released back into the stream all the while leaving memories in the minds of its collectors.

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