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Science on the River
Science on the River
Posted on 11/05/2019
Buncombe County Early College students take a closer look at their specimens.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

Buncombe County Early College Students collected weird and wonderful creatures on Tuesday for a hands-on science lesson about water quality.

As part of a partnership with RiverLink, first-year students captured and catalogued macroinvertebrates in the Swannanoa River at Charles D. Owen Park. Macroinvertebrates- like mayfly nymphs, dragonfly larvae, and pouch snails- are key indicators of a water system’s health. More biodiversity means a healthier stream with less pollution.

“When you see it in the classroom, it’s hard to imagine this as an actual job,” said science teacher Joshua Reed. “But by getting out here and collecting actual data, they see that there’s a lot to measuring water quality. And science doesn’t always look like working in a lab. It looks very different depending on what field you’re in.”

The students walked along the bank and waded into the stream, disturbing the sediment and using a flattened net to catch whatever floated away. They pulled up the nets, and (often to shrieks and laughter) pulled the tiny creatures out. Then they placed their specimens in ice trays and used an illustrated key to identify them.

“It was really fun,” said first-year student Evelyn Croley. “The bugs are really interesting, and some are pretty cute.”

She said she appreciated the chance to come down to the river and do hands-on field science.

“In class you hear that they don’t have a spine, but here I can see for myself,” she said. “That’s pretty useful.”

Fellow first-year student Rowan Minnis had a similar reaction.

“We’re here in nature, looking at actual bioindicators and using them to measure the health of the river,” he said. “It’s a real connection that makes you want to get out and help.”


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RiverLink also helped Estes Elementary students get involved in river science.

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, [email protected], 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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