Social Distancing Science Class

Well, we had a baby on Friday the 13th (of March), our 3rd son. He was a bit of a surprise for us, but we are stoked to welcome him into our family. My other 2 boys are 11 and 8. Kind of like starting over, haha!

We got sent home from the hospital early due to the COVID-19 scare. And then we find out school is cancelled until April 27th. Blessing and a curse...especially after Monday now that we can't leave the house much. We are cooped up, the boys are anxious, antsy, and miss their friends.

We have set a reasonable schedule for them to do some schoolwork during the day, but it is a struggle. They are home, and they know they are at home, and it's hard to explain that this isn't a vacation. I decided we would do a once/twice a week science class employing social distancing practices. We will be visiting local rivers and creeks, collecting insects, and looking at the differences and similarities between the insects at each location. I also thought I would explore doing some macro-photgraphy with them. That has been a learning process!

Day 1, Cowiche Creek, about 20 minutes from our house in Yakima with a nice hiking trail:
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Pretty sure Rhyacophila sp. on this one
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Not sure on this one, guessing Rhithrogena sp. or Epeorus sp.
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I thought I remembered this being Zapada sp., but could be way off here.
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These Hydropsychidae are always tough to nail down, likely a Hydropsyche sp., but could just as easily be Ceratopsyche sp.
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We did get a couple Skwala sp.!
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And, a waterboatman! There were a ton of these in the slower water. Corixidae Family.
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I know these pictures aren't awesome, still learning how to best capture photos of these constant movers. @Taxon (or anyone else for that matter) if you have any more information you would like to share with us regarding the identification of any of these insects we would be grateful to hear it. Likely genus is the best you can get from the photo quality. I will keep trying to improve on my photos, and if everyone is interested i will keep posting our "trip reports".

Thanks for looking!

James
 

Rock Creek Fan

Active Member
I took my daughters out as often as I could to understand/learn about nature. We would look under rocks and dead debris for insects. One of my daughters would make 'beds' out of leaves in her hand for the larva she found. On her 7th birthday we had a scavenger hunt. Almost all of her friends did not know the difference between an alder leaf and a maple leaf.

It impacted her so much that she graduated just recently with a micro and molecular biology degree with a chemistry minor.

Exposing young ones to music, science, math, etc. can have a profound impact on long term career choices... Just say in'...
 

flybill

Purveyor of fine hackle, wine & cigars!
Awesome! And congratulations on the new baby!

So now that you have gotten them out looking at the bugs, you need to sit them down at the vice and tie up some bugs that match what they saw! I assume you tie, but don't know for sure.

Regardless a fun and safe way to get out with the kids and share with them! Be safe and have fun with the family!
 

cabezon

Sculpin Enterprises
WFF Supporter
We have set a reasonable schedule for them to do some schoolwork during the day, but it is a struggle. They are home, and they know they are at home, and it's hard to explain that this isn't a vacation. I decided we would do a once/twice a week science class employing social distancing practices. We will be visiting local rivers and creeks, collecting insects, and looking at the differences and similarities between the insects at each location. I also thought I would explore doing some macro-photgraphy with them. That has been a learning process!
Hi James,
Congratulations on the new addition.

Great idea to keep your boys interested. You may know but assessments of stream invertebrate communities are used by citizen-science groups and by professionals to assess water quality. Some species (e.g., stoneflies) require very clean water and others are more tolerant of pollution (e.g., blackflies) (see https://www.thoughtco.com/water-monitoring-and-aquatic-macroinvertebrates-1968647). Because the insects are in the streams for months or even a year or longer, they are great sentinels of the chemical and physical conditions. There are many links out there on the web that can guide you and your boys into monitoring water quality with insects, either qualitatively or quantitatively.

Steve
 
Thanks for the replies everyone. Here is a pic of Arlo, our new son.
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@Taxon, the gills on the Heptagiidae mayfly are throwing me off. Maybe Cinygma?

@cabezon I am aware of this, and actually spent some time in college using macroinvertabrates to assess water quality. You used to be able to access some macroinvertebrate monitoring from water sites on the Department of Ecology website, but I can't find those anymore :-(. They are young, and I am just trying to keep them interested and add a little science in when possible. To be honest, they lose interest pretty quick when we get home and start doing the "research" part. I love this stuff, and could spend all day on a single insect...they could spend all day playing Fortnite if there were no parents here, haha!

@flybill, I do tie flies...a lot. Here is my most recent creation, an October Caddis. I have tried pretty hard to get my boys into it, and they lose interest real fast. I was hoping maybe the bugs would get them into it a bit. No luck yet. Trying not to force them to do it, as that could make them despise it.
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@HungryNookie we are keeping a journal, and trying to do some "simple" research on each insect! Thanks for the idea for raising the Monarchs! When this whole Covid-19 thing blows over I will look into that for them.

Here is our most recent trip, just before they closed down the boat launches. My first mistake was that I only brought one collection "cup". I thought I would take the pictures out on the river instead of trying to bring the insects home. Well, we collected all of the insects, and then they were all in the same cup, so I just took pictures of them all together. I think the pics actually turned out better, and will plan on doing it this way next time, but with two cups, so I can separate them individually to take pictures.
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Lots of PMD nymphs (Ephemeralla sp.), some caddis (Hydropsychidae family, Brachycentridae Family and Rhyacophila sp.), a Salmonfly (Pteronarcys sp.), Skwala sp., and lots of Cranefly larva (Tipulidae family).
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We tried to go out yesterday up to Ahtanum Creek, have a picnic, and then do some bug collecting. Well, we pulled up to a nice spot on the creek, started eating, and almost immediately a DNR employee showed up and told us that all DNR land was shut down and we had to leave. So, we might have to get more creative to find some insects.
 
Welcome, Arlo!

And thanks for the great pics.

Over here across the pond we've been in total lockdown for some time now, so fishing season barely got off the ground before it was effectively ended, at least for now. So nice to see your kids enjoying the outdoors, how I wish we could do the same here.

Keep safe all,
Kenneth
 
@Taxon, sorry to keep bothering you Roger. From my original pic though, shouldn't Rhithrogena have gills on abdominal segments 9 & 10, and shouldn't they form a "suction cup"?

I know my picture isn't great, but it looks more like the picture above than Rhithrogena to me.
 

Taxon

Active Member
WFF Moderator
@Taxon, sorry to keep bothering you Roger. From my original pic though, shouldn't Rhithrogena have gills on abdominal segments 9 & 10, and shouldn't they form a "suction cup"?

I know my picture isn't great, but it looks more like the picture above than Rhithrogena to me.
Good points, all. ;)
 

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