Teams hunt for organisms in different areas of a pond or lake. The term habitat is introduced.
Group Size: any size, but 12-15 for each leader
Suggested Age: 10 and up
Time: 40-50 minutesConsider…
- Sequence: Plan on doing What Lives Here? Before this activity.
- Site: a freshwater pond or lake with banks that are not too steep or slippery. Use a dip net to be sure the site contains a variety of aquatic animals and plants.
- Safety: Use the buddy system. See the SAFETY section in the Leader’s Survival Kit folio for safety guideline for water study sites.
For each team of 2: Plankton net, long-handled dip net or aquarium net, clear plastic cup, hand lens, white bottomed containers.
For the group: data board, different colored markers, several large kitchen strainers, OBIS Pond Guide and/or other similar guides, turkey basters
What plants and animals live in each of the five habitats of a pond or lake?
- A habitat is the place where an organism lives.
- A pond contains several habitats, each with its own unique set of plant or animal life.
In this activity, the participants collect organisms from the five habitats of a lake or pond: the water’s edge, the surface layer, open water, the bottom and the air over the water. They compare the different organisms they find to see how widely they are distributed between the different habitats.
When investigating a pond, most kids will not notice anything smaller than a frog or large insect. Encourage the participants to slow down and look at the small or microscopic critters that will appear in their water samples. In order to see them, pour the pond water into a small white bottomed container and set the container down to allow the non-living particles to settle. The specks of material still moving are probably living critters. Challenge the kids by asking “What is the smallest living thing you can find? How does it move?” You will need a hand lens to investigate many of these tiny critters.
Another place to look for aquatic animals is on the underside of submerged rocks along the bank. Many aquatic insect nymphs will make their home on the bottom of these rocks. Lift the rock out of the water, turn it over, and look carefully for anything that moves. Sometimes the critters are small, transparent, or the same color as the rock making them hard to see. Rinse the rock off into a white-bottomed container.
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