LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Mud Creek case study

Mud Creek

Inquiry-based exploration of human impacts on stream ecosystems: The Mud Creek case study

By Christine Muth, Leslie Brinson, and Emily Bernhardt

In this unit plan for high school earth and environmental science, students explore the impact of human activity on the health of streams in urban and non-urban settings. Students mimic current scientific research by measuring physical, chemical, and biological indicators of stream health.

The case study on which the unit is based involved Mud Creek in Durham, North Carolina, but instructions are provided for various settings. Depending on available time and resources, students may do field work in any urban stream; teachers can mock up classroom-only experiments; or teachers may provide students with data from the Mud Creek study to analyze.

Video demonstrations of various activities, including instructions for chemical measurements, are included.

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