Exploratory science in a youth prison

by Tom Kaye — last modified Oct 22, 2013

Students at the Oregon Youth Authority's Oak Creek Facility collect insects from creek samples
Students at the Oregon Youth Authority’s Oak Creek Facility collect insects from creek samples

Water scorpions, salamanders and dragonfly nymphs created smiles and laughter as women at the Oak Creek Youth Authority examined aquatic insects as part of an exploratory science lesson taught by IAE Ecological Education staff.

Students learned about bio assessment and how macro invertebrates can teach scientists about stream quality. Each group of women received a large bucket of stream water from Dunawi Creek in Corvallis. Scooping up nets of water plants and insects, the students keyed out aquatic invertebrates and related their findings to the health of the stream. “Through examining their insects, the students determined that this section of Dunawi Creek had a good to excellent water quality rating,” said Stacy Moore, Ecological Education Program Director.

“Students love these types of hands-on lessons where nature comes into the classroom and students can smell, touch and see plants and animals up close.” IAE Ecological Education staff will continue bringing engaging ecology lessons to Oak Creek throughout the year, thanks to a grant from Willamette Habitat Restoration and other funders.