Project 1: An Aquatic Ecosystem Analysis

General Information
Project Overview
Curriculum Connections
Resource Connections

  General Information

Lead Teachers:Cecil Lake

Charles Pender

Grade Level:Level II & III
Number of Students16
Project Start and Finish Dates:Started on September 15, 1996 and March 20, 1997.

  Project Overview

This project is a joint venture of Regina High School and Herdman Collegiate using Biology 3201 classes. Regina High School will evaluate Bells Brook and Herdman Collegiate will assess the health of Corner Brook Stream. In the case of Regina High School, I have taken one of my Biology 3201 classes and asked them to conduct an ecosystem analysis of Bells Brook, a local river that runs though the city of Corner Brook.

The class was divided into teams of two or more, each with a specific responsibility within the ecosystem analysis. The teams are:

  1. dissolved oxygen analysis
  2. coliform bacteria analysis
  3. pH and temperature analysis
  4. vegetation analysis
  5. flow rate and stream bed composition analysis
  6. macro invertebrate analysis
  7. video tape and homepage

The teams conducted four sample periods starting in September. Analysis was done on site and in the laboratory following the site visit.

Each team will submit a written report of their findings with an interpretation on the health of the river. All teams will then discuss their findings with each other and the project group will have to submit a final group report with recommendations.

The final phase of the project will have both project groups from Regina High School and Herdman Collegiate to get tother to discuss their findings.

  Curriculum Connections

When this project was conceived, it had the intent of:

  1. to apply knowledge learned in the classroom to a real ecological system. Students would take the basic ecological principle learned in Unit I -Ecology and relate that to a river ecosystem.
  2. to have the student teams develop an appreciation of the dynamics of an ecosystem and how ecosystems can be destroyed or impaired by the activity of humans.
  3. to have students understand the concept of team work as it relates to understanding a complex river ecosystem.
  4. to have students learn the methods and equipment used in ecosystem analysis.
  5. to haver students learn how to communicate the findings of this group to other schools or interested parties using videotape and the Internet.
  6. to have students develop a sense of stewardship for the river ecosystem.

Within the school, these students will overlap with other curriculum areas while doing this project. In addition to the Biology 3201 course, the students will apply some of their knowledge to:

Chemistry 3200 - the dissolved oxygen test uses the Winkler Method which requires a very precise titration. The pH test requires the knowledge of acids and bases and how this relates to a river ecosystem.

Computer Applications - The pH test has to be completed using Vernier software which requires knowledge in the operation of a Windows operating environment.

World Geography - river flow rates and bottom sediment.

Religion - sense of community and stewardship

Mathematics & Physics - flow rates

  Resource Connections

In the write-up phase of the team reports, the Internet will be a valuable source of information because:

  1. previous projects that focus on rivers ecosystems are displayed on the Internet for theses students access.
  2. the information that is contained on these homepages can be used as background material and help them in the interpretation of their results.
  3. the student will see what can be done if they conclude the river ecosystem is unhealthy.

Throughout this project, the school library and the local university library will be utilized for further research material. Local experts in the community have already been contacted and are willing to assist the students where possible in the interpretation of data.

Field guides for macro invertebrates and plants have been provided by local and provincial organizations to assist the teams in their identification process.


The intent of this project is to provide to this group of students a connection between the academic and its application to the ecosystem. In the process, the project would like to develop a sense of stewardship for the river and the team work that is required for them to complete a meaningful project. In that sense, the project will be evaluated in two ways:

  1. the team reports will be evaluated on the basis of how well they accomplished the procedural write-up format.
  2. the final summation of the class as it relates to the health of the river and the attached recommendations they will provide.

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