Middle School Students Visit Tetherow Crossing, Study Plant and Animal Life

On Thursday, May 9, RPA middle school students visited Tetherow Crossing Park in Redmond. This location is the site of the oldest standing home in Deschutes County, but is a location teeming with native plants and animals that live along the Deschutes River. Students are currently studying how scientists understand the health of our watershed by using field studies and this was an excellent location to analyze data and make observations. Prior to visiting this location, students learned how to sample water chemistry on the Lateral C Irrigation Canal in Redmond, as well as their classroom fish tank.

Ray Johnson (6th grade) holding one of several stonefly larvae they found along the river.

While at Tetherow Crossing, students participated in three activities: a wildlife scavenger hunt, water chemistry testing, and macroinvertebrate sampling. The students were a combination of 6th and 8th grade students from advanced science classes at the middle school. Students were all organized into groups of different grades to complete the three field studies and supported by  Amelie Montgomery (12th grade, RPA High School), Andrea Adams (Science Instructor, RPA Middle School) and Samantha Tonroe (STEM Lab Instructor, RPA Middle School).

Students ultimately determined that the local watershed is in a relatively healthy condition. During the wildlife scavenger hunt, students observed osprey, turkey vultures, red-winged blackbirds, small songbirds, rabbits, snakes, shrews, insects and beaver tracks along the river. They used a simple key to identify three species of trees that are critical in beaver habitat – willows, aspen and cottonwood. Students also found that our water chemistry samples from the Deschutes indicated good water quality, which was supported by the fact that they found several examples of macroinvertebrates who are intolerant of pollution.

“The hope is for students to continue field studies next year to extend their learning and understanding of how scientists use data to help us understand how humans impact the world around us, as well as how to use that data to make change,” said Science Instructor Andrea Adams.

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