River Comparison Project
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Grade: 6th Grade
Class: Science
Author: Marion Shorey
Ballston Spa Central School
NYS Content Area Standard:
Math, Science & Technology:
Standard 4: Science
NYS Interdisciplinary Standard:
Adirondack Curriculum Content Area:
Natural History
Keywords: macroinvertebrates, rivers
The Challenge:
Investigative Question or Issue: What macroinvertebrate categories do DEC scientists use to study the health of a stream or river, and how do the number of insects in each category show the differences in rivers?

Challenge originally created by Marion Shorey & Valerie Valla.

The Challenge:

DEC scientists sample insect populations and record the data.  Working in groups of three, research the insect population of your assigned waterway and create a bar graph of the total number of insects in each of the three categories (sensitive, somewhat sensitive, tolerant).

1. Go to XXXXXXX website and click on your river.

2. What are the total numbers of sensitive, somewhat sensitive, and tolerant insect species for the most recent year's data?

3. Create a bar graph using graph paper comparing the numbers of insects for each category.

4. Present your graphs to the class.

5. Place your graphs on your work table.  Pick two other rivers and compare the data of their rivers to your river.

6. Write two complete sentences for each river describing how that river is similar or different from the river you researched. 

Enrichment:  In addition to the bar graph, create a line graph showing the insect population changes in each category over a 20 year period.  Use increments of 5 years (5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago).

A Northern Forest Partnership Challenge

Quality Standards:


-colorful, different color for each bar
-must fill the page -
axes labeled (each bar should be labeled)
-equal increments
-student name, teacher name, section in upper left hand corner


-river names

-four different comparisons (similarities, differences)

-specific numeric data (numbers of insects)

-circle similarity or difference on the chart for each sentence

-complete sentences

Product Quality Checklist
Print This Checklist
Standard/Criteria: Points Possible: Points Awarded:

Completed by __________________

BAR GRAPH (total points   )

  • Different color for each bar.
  • Neatly drawn with ruler, bars equal in width, handwriting is legible
  • ccurate number of total insects for each category (sensitive, somewhat-sensitive, tolerant)
  • Graph must be designed to fill most of the page
  • X-axis (horizontal) labeled "Insect Categories"
  • Y-axis (vertical) labeled "Number of Insects"
  • Y-axis divided into equal increments and labeled with the numbers

Student name, teacher name, section in upper right hand corner

RIVER COMPARISON CHART (total points   )

  • River names are recorded
  • Four different types of comparisons were made
  • Specific numeric data (numbers of insects)
  • Chart has similarity or difference circled for each<

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