An Ex-STREAM-ly Fun Field Lab

When I first came to Chewonki, I was the most nervous about our field labs. Five hours in the woods? In Maine? I thought I was going to be cold and that the class would be confusing, but it has grown to be one of my favorite parts of my experience at Chewonki. Every week on either Tuesday or Thursday, we go out to some part of the ecosystem around us and learn about it!

Last Tuesday, we went to a stream ecology lab in Montsweag Brook. Before we left, we had to get on the proper attire, our big boots! I was a little nervous but it turns out the boots were more comfortable than I thought they would be, and they were fashionable. During the lab, we got to collect, identify, and catalog macro-invertebrates from the stream. We used nets and had to stomp around in the creek bed to get the invertebrates to swim into our nets. Then we had to pick out and identify the different things we caught. This was super fun to get to learn about the roles that these animals play in the ecology of the stream. One thing we learned about was how invertebrates in rivers are strong indicators of stream health. From the data we collected we found that the stream was pretty clean! 

Having the opportunity to learn about this part of Maine’s ecosystems was incredibly fun. I love getting to learn in a hands-on way and getting to see exactly what I was learning about. Some of the invertebrates that we identified were stonefly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, and dopson flies, along with many others. Getting to collect data and compare my group’s results with other groups was my favorite part of this lab. I loved seeing all of the different animals that we found and being able to use the dichotomous key to identify the animals that we found. 

Even now, days after our lab, I keep thinking back to that trip. I loved that we not only go to learn about the ecology of the coast, but I also got to learn practical skills. 

Stella Lemmond, Community High School of Arts and Academics, Roanoke, VA

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