Collect Invertebrates to Determine Water Quality

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This activity (located on page 3 of the PDF under GPS: Alligator Habitat Activity) is a full inquiry investigation into organisms and the health of their ecosystems. Groups of learners will net and count different types of invertebrates from a local pond, lake, or stream, then group them by their tolerance to pollution and make calculations to determine the quality of the water. Relates to linked video, DragonflyTV GPS: Alligator Habitat.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • dip nets, long-handled or short with fine mesh
  • buckets
  • large shallow pans - preferably white
  • small viewing scopes or magnifying glasses
  • pictures of some common aquatic invertebrates (online or in pond guide)
  • boots or shoes that can get wet and muddy


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Biosphere
    • Earth's History
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
      • Classification
    • Ecology
      • Biodiversity
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
      • Human Impact
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
    • Number and Operations
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • About Inquiry
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DragonflyTV


  • All rights reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., 2007

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 610429