Riparian Habitat Exploration
In the Riparian Habitat Exploration Aqua STEM Unit, students become riparian scientists and use systems thinking to explore the inner workings of a healthy ecosystem. Then, they take their knowledge into the field, immersing themselves in the riparian experience, encountering amazing water places, and incentivizing an ethic of water stewardship.
The unit begins with a glimpse into the work of five scientists - an aquatic biologist, an entomologist, a water chemist, a soil scientist, and a botanist - and the compelling world of Arizona’s riparian areas and the biodiversity they support. Students design and conduct science investigations to assess indicators of habitat quality using data collection tools engineered by their group as well as other equipment. Also in the field, students dig into the relationships between natural bodies of water and the availability of food and shelter for animals and begin to see how Arizona’s riparian areas support such a large variety of species. Finally, the students compile all of the data and assess the ecosystem and habitat health.