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Monocacy Basin Stream Monitoring Project

The Monocacy Basin Stream Monitoring Project (MBSMP) is a water quality monitoring and watershed education program that emphasizes the study of the Monocacy watershed. The project provides public outreach opportunities that teach science and problem-solving skills, increase awareness of environmental problems and encourage communication among students and other citizens who live in different locations within the watershed.

The MBSMP works with teachers to incorporate water quality monitoring as part of their environmental curriculum, using the concepts of aquatic science while relying on skills in mathematics and computer science. This interdisciplinary approach provides practical integration of classroom subjects that often motivate students to solve real-world problems. Project participants also include adult volunteer monitors who collect crucial stream health data and work within their respective watersheds to protect stream habitat and health. The data is regularly updated on the official MBSMP Web site and shared with groups throughout the watershed.

Educational objectives of the MBSMP:

  • Learn the field and laboratory skills needed to measure physical and chemical attributes of water quality.
  • Use macroinvertebrates as bio-indicators of water quality.
  • Analyze collected data and formulate possible explanations for specific results.
  • Examine ecological and social factors that influence water quality.
  • Develop skills in group problem solving and action taking.
  • Utilize the appropriate technology to affect change.
  • Provide local, state and federal water quality groups with monitoring data and collaborate to protect and improve water quality.

Participant Activities

  • Stream survey: participants identify the characteristics of the river at each testing site such as depth, width, plant life, slope and condition of the stream bank, composition of the streambed and possible pollution sources (areas of runoff, pipes, etc.).
  • Chemical sampling: participants measure and report such parameters as pH, nitrates and total suspended solids.
  • Aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling: participants identify and study the characteristics of aquatic macroinvertebrates (insects, snails, clams and worms) living in the watershed and learn about the physical forces that influence them. Hands-on opportunities exist to collect organisms and calculate the relationship between the composition of the aquatic community and water quality by using indicator organisms and diversity indexes.
  • Computer Networking: students compile their data on a single World Wide Web page and communicate with each other on issues of water quality, pollution solutions, stewardship and social action.

Contact Information:

Kate Heilman

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