Students Enjoy Caddisfly STEAM Event at Belle View Elementary School


March 15, 2017
For Immediate Release

Students Enjoy Caddisfly STEAM Event at Belle View Elementary School

Belle View Elementary School recently hosted their STEAM* night and invited Danielle Wynne, Ecologist III, Stormwater Planning Division, Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, to have a table. "I called the table Create a Caddisfly," said Danielle. "Since STEAM combines science and the arts, I thought a science-based craft was the way to go," she said.

A caddisfly larva is a type of benthic macroinvertebrate (organisms without backbones) that live on the bottom of a stream or lake and are big enough to see with your eye. The diversity and density of benthic macroinvertebrates is used by scientists as an indicator of stream health. Some organisms are intolerant to pollution while others can live in degraded systems. Looking at the number of tolerant versus intolerant species helps tell the story of the stream and watershed.

Students that attended the STEAM night learned about various types of caddisflies, why scientists look for them and how these creatures create their own houses in which to live. Using tissue paper, stuffing, construction paper and some pipe cleaners, students created their own caddisfly and case to take home.

"While caddisflies usually construct their cases to blend into the environment, these cases did anything but! It was a really fun event and the students had a great time learning about stream insects," Danielle said.

Determining water quality in streams is an important part of Fairfax County's Stream Quality Assessment Program. County ecologists measure the extent to which human activities effect watershed health by gathering and recording information on physical conditions, water quality and living communities (like the caddisfly) in streams and in the surrounding environment. Based on biological data collected at 40 randomly selected locations throughout Fairfax County in 2015, approximately 80 percent of streams in the county are in fair to very poor condition. This indicates that many streams are significantly impaired and lack biological diversity.

*STEAM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in five specific disciplines: science; technology; engineering; art; and mathematics in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

Students Enjoy Caddisfly STEAM Event at Belle View Elementary School
Caption: A "Create a Caddisfly" poster was created for the class.

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Contact: Irene Haske,
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-5821, TTY 711

 


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