Habitat Sense

Lily Pad

Habitat Sense is the analysis of a stream reach’s physical qualities. Students survey a pool, riffle, or glide, and look at dimensions, substrate, woody material, fish cover, and other factors that determine how the site might be used by aquatic life.


NGSS: HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7, HS-LS4-6, HS-LS4-5, HS-ESS2-5, HS-ESS3-1

WA SCIENCE Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs): 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2

Teachers-Habitat Sense

Measuring the stream to understand habitat types


Students will be able to:

  • List steps of stream habitat survey methods
  • Discuss the features a healthy stream must have
    to support aquatic life
  • Sketch a reach of stream in all its complexities


  • Use of survey instruments to measure habitat
  • Habitat components: pools, riffles, and glides
  • Stream complexity as a sign of suitable habitat

Classroom Materials

Classroom Pre-work Activities:

  • Habitat Sense Vocab – (MOST RECOMMENDED)
  • Dynamic Water (PDF)– Students learn the habitat components of pools, riffles, and glides, and how fish use these habitats.
  • Ring Around the Rock (PDF)– Students understand the concept of embeddedness and how it can affect aquatic life.
  • Stream Mapping (PDF)– Students discuss the components of a stream reach and illustrate and map an imaginary reach or the school grounds.
  • Be a Biologist…Back in the Office (PDF)– Students analyze a completed stream survey, interpret results, draw conclusions about the health of a surveyed stream, and/or write an authentic stream survey report.

Magnifying Glass

Field Day Materials


“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”- Rachel Carson

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