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

Virtual Lesson

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

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