How wiggly is our Water?

Who doesn’t love playing with water?

In a controlled environment, this program provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss freshwater ecosystems, particularly the wiggly organisms within, namely waterbugs! Waterbugs are macroinvertebrates—animals without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye and that live for all or part of their lives in water. They help to maintain a healthy ecosystem and are an important food source for animals such as frogs, turtles and birds.

We learn more about freshwater macroinvertebrates and what relationship they play within freshwater food chains and food webs. Macroinvertebrates are commonly used to monitor the health of wetlands and waterways because of their differing sensitivity to changes in water quality. We collect water samples from a local waterway to determine its health by looking at the type and number of waterbugs found in the sample.

Sampling water quality provides a fantastic opportunity for students to not only gain a better understanding of their local waterways and wetlands, but provides an opportunity to practice hand-eye coordination and dexterity to catch and release the waterbugs from the sample tubs to the analysing trays.

All waterbugs are released alive back into the waterway in which they were collected and students are encouraged to show respect and empathy with all samples being monitored.

The National WaterBug Blitz program is discussed which is Australia’s first nationwide waterway monitoring event and a citizen scientist project. It provides a fantastic opportunity for pre-schools and schools to get involved and provide valuable monitoring data on our local waterways.