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Photos: Anchorage fourth-graders become watershed investigators by exploring salmon in their backyard

Fourth-graders from Creekside Park Elementary did some hands-on science through the Alaska Seas and Watersheds K-8 curriculum, a marine literacy program that's part of Alaska Sea Grant's STEM outreach to schools across Alaska.

The students sampled water to measure for dissolved oxygen concentrations, pH and temperature, and also calculated water velocity, collected macroinvertebrates and removed debris. All this to learn about the salmon life cycle and what it takes to keep salmon healthy.

Huddling over a tray of water, children inspected macroinvertebrates before placing them into ice cube trays for separation. They were looking to distinguish the different kinds by their movement and appearance, referencing enlarged photos of the macroinvertebrates.

"First the kids were hesitant about the bugs and saying things like 'eww,' but then they got excited and really into it," said Annie Heise, a Student Conservation Association intern with the National Park Service.

There will be a larger field trip involving many different Anchorage classrooms at Westchester Lagoon on the morning of May 16. Students will be doing similar stream sampling and learning on that day.

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