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photo credit: Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation photo credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department photo credit:  Gillian Ball, USFWS

In Step with STEM


Publish Aquatic News Online by producing electronic posters, bulletins, magazine, or multimedia presentations with low-cost web resources such as Postermywall, NoteApp, Padlett, and Jilster.

See the activity Aquatic Times.

Take a Virtual River Trip. Go to Google Maps and switch to satellite view.  Find a local river corridor and follow it from headwaters to the sea.

See the activity Blue Ribbon Niche.

Make a Public Service Announcement, as laid out in the activity Conservation Messaging. The following are some free digital media production resources for the development, editing, and launching of videos: Youtube Editor, Windows Movie Maker, Wax, Avidemux, and VideoPad.

Construct a Model Dam in the classroom or schoolyard. (Click here for lesson plans.) At a small stream in a local area, recreate the dam using rocks and other natural materials. Discuss the impact of the dam on the waterbody over time.

See the activity Dam Design.

Explore Dam Design by researching an innovation called “Selective Water Withdrawal Tower” at Deschutes River Dam.

See the activity Dam Design.

Design a Model Habitat.  As the first step in this project, research habitat requirements of select species using the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)’s Animal Care Manuals.

See the activity Designing a Habitat.

Construct a Watershed Model. In order to better understand the needs of a particular aquatic environment and explore conceptual models, construct a simple or simply advanced watershed model.

See the activity Dragonfly Pond.

Explore Land-Use Patterns and aquatic habitats in your community as compared to other places. Go to Google Maps and check out your location of choice under Map, Satellite, and Earth views.

See the activity Dragonfly Pond.

Investigate Transitional Areas. Practice sampling and bioassessment techniques by designating a small area with a hula hoop or string in two different ecosystems and the edge between them. Record variety and number of species found within each of the three plots. Alternatively, conduct a line transect sampling by laying out a designated length of string and recording any organisms or plants that intersect the string.  The appendices in Aquatic WILD introduce a number of plant and wildlife inventory methods; there are also many resources online, such as this PowerPoint presentation on plot study observations.

See the activity Edge of Home.

Dissect a Fish. Diagram the anatomy and internal organs of a fish. Search on Youtube for an instructional video on fish dissection. In addition, try building a fish electronically.

See the activity Fashion a Fish.

“Where in the World Are Kelp Forests?” Have the class look at a kelp forests distribution map. Discuss and then research why kelp forests occur primarily in temperate and arctic waters rather than tropical regions.

See the activity Kelp Help.

Make an Underwater Viewer to observe an underwater study site. Click here for instructions or search on Youtube for related videos.

See the activity Kelp Help.

Travel to Bottom of the Sea. Take a virtual dive to explore organisms that thrive under extreme conditions away from the sun.

See the activity Mermaids and Manatees.

Discover Microbes through a photo gallery. View electron micrograph images and compare photos to specimens found in pond water.

See the activity Micro Odyssey.

Explore “How to Fish” at Learn about types of tackle, rods, and other fishing gear, as well as sport fishing techniques.

See the activity Net Gain, Net Effect.

Generate Graphs by using an online graphing tool. Use data collected during the activity Net Gain, Net Effect.

Track Marine Debris. Use a simple or interactive map of ocean winds and currents to track where plastic pollution might be carried from different locations. Look for circular currents that would trap and concentrate marine debris and also for currents that would wash debris back on shore.

See the activity Plastic Voyages.

Build a Vernal Pool. For tips on how to design and construct a vernal pool, click here.

See the activity Pond Succession.

Follow Animals with an App. Use smartphone Apps such as Project Noah to aid in researching animals found in riparian zones.  Monitor and report data on species in your area that live near or migrate to a local stream or waterbody.

See the activity Riparian Retreat.

Learn about Satellite Telemetry. Click here to check out how it is used to track sea turtle migration routes.

See the activity Sea Turtles International.

Design and Build a Dam using craft sticks, small rocks, sand, and other common materials. Click here for details.

See the activity To Dam or Not to Dam.

Research Biological Indicators and how they are used to determine waterway health. Visit the EPA page “Identifying Healthy Watersheds” and look for information (including water quality data) about watersheds all over the United States. You might also like to visit the EPA page “Surf Your Watershed.

See the activity Urban Waterway Checkup.

Measure Stream Flow.  First, measure the depth and width of the stream. Then place a floating object in the stream such as a bobber, stick, or leaf.  Use upstream and downstream markers to calculate the rate of flow.  Click here for instructions, or search for a video on Youtube.

See the activity Water Works.

Retrace Waterway History. Print a large map of a portion of a highly developed waterway. Rewrite history in reverse to design and develop the landscape back into a natural setting. How might water flow change? What would happen during a flood? What plants and animals might live in the riparian zone?

See the activity Watered-Down History.

Create a pH Indicator Solution with a cabbage. Test various water resources, such as a local pond or tap water at the school. Click here for instructions.

See the activity What’s in the Air?

Measure Infiltration Rate of water into soil. For an instructional video on measuring infiltration rate, click here.

See the activity Where Does Water Run?



Sample Activity photo credit: Gary Peeples, USFWS
Photo credit: Gary Peeples, USFWS Careers, photo credit: Greg Thompson, USFWS
Photo Credit: Toni Castro, EPA photo credit: Galveston Bay Foundation  


Useful Tools

Cooltoolsforschools is a Wiki-style resource for web resources for teachers and educators.


FotoFlexer, an online software for photo editing, saving, and sharing, can do most anything you would need with easy tools. It accepts uploads from computer or from Facebook, Flikr, Picassa, etc.


Google SketchUp allows students to create 2-D and 3-D models they can place in Google maps and Google Earth. Tip:  educators may want to first become familiar with using Google Sketchup prior to student use. allows teachers to set up blogs for their class. It is fully customizable and easy to use. Students can log in to create entries and share with class.

MapSkip, an interactive mapping application, allows students to create an account and map stories, photos, audio, video, etc. Teachers can find creative ways to use it with Aquatic WILD.

Nabble is an all-in-one resource for creating mailing lists, blogs, forums, newspapers, and photo galleries.  The website has many features, the best of which being the forums. All ‘widgets’ can be embedded into existing site.

Project Noah is an easy to use program in which students take photos of wildlife and place their photos on an interactive map.  Students create profiles and can search for wildlife and share their photos etc.

SchoolTube is a video site for students to upload and share project—similar to Youtube but without distractions from unwanted clips.

Smilebox is a solid, attractive, and easy-to-use software that allows video editing, uploading, sharing, etc.

TeacherTube is a good Youtube-style website for teachers to find educational videos of all types.

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