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  • Stream health monitoring and assessment is a hands-on look at a freshwater ecosystem. It involves the measurement of water quality indicators and observations of the physical and biological features of a local waterway.

    In this activity, students use a variety of water quality indicators to gather data about a local stream. The activity provides step-by-step instructions, protocols, recording sheets and how-to videos for monitoring stream health.

    Regional councils may have stream health monitoring and assessment equipment available for community use. Contact your local council for information on how to borrow a set and whether the council can offer assistance with monitoring.

    Stream health monitoring offers opportunities for cross-curricular learning and practice using the science capabilities. The article Rivers and Us – a context for learning has additional information about curriculum links, pedagogy and resources to support teaching and learning.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • measure physical factors including clarity, temperature and pH
    • measure the water velocity of the stream flow
    • collect and sample macroinvertebrates living in the stream
    • assess the stream habitat
    • use the data they’ve collected to consider potential actions they can take to improve the stream habitat and water quality.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Related content

    The interactive Water quality indicators has videos of senior water quality scientist Dr Eloise Ryan explaining a number of indicators used when monitoring stream health and why they are important.

    In this recorded webinar Alex Daniel from the Waikato Regional Council shares her approach to planning for a successful stream monitoring experience.

    Environmental DNA is a tool scientists use to monitor freshwater ecosystems. Find out more about environmental DNA and use this hands-on and feet-on activity to ‘sample’ eDNA in a lake system.


    This activity has been developed in partnership with the Waikato Regional Council as part of the Rivers and Us resource.

      Published 5 March 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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