I teach middle school, first and foremost, because I love kids that age and love sharing books and writing with them. Reason #2? Probably the field trips. I have never quite gotten over that feeling I used to get in second grade when I’d arrive at school, see the yellow buses waiting outside, and know that we were leaving. Walking right out of the building to go to an official interesting place.
My seventh graders and I went to one of those places on the Burlington, VT waterfront today. We took a trip on the University of Vermont’s research vessel, the Melosira. If you teach and live within striking distance, I highly recommend this trip. My group started the day with some activities in the lab, then ate lunch and climbed on board for a variety of lake-science activities.
Our guides used this special net to collect plankton samples for examination under the boat’s two dissecting microscopes.
This little filmy-looking guy is from a group of Zooplankton called Cladocerans.
After everyone had a turn at the microscopes, our guides used a special benthic sled to dredge up some creatures from the bottom of the lake.
Just what was he holding that was getting all that attention? One small crayfish, some snails, and a couple caddisfly larvae.
Of course zebra mussels, an issue in Lake Champlain since the mid-90s made up the majority of our haul.
The kids loved poking through them, though, to see what else they could find. We also spotted a leech, several kinds of mayfly larvae, and this tiny, tiny blood worm.
If our boaters looked a little chilly in the photos, it’s because the weather didn’t entirely cooperate. We finally saw the sun as we headed back into Burlington Harbor, though – a perfect end to a perfectly fascinating afternoon.