Preparing for sampling - Culvert Project

Background for Teachers

Your students now have a hypothesis and a sampling plan.

Now is the time to put words into action- gather protocols, equipment and troubleshoot before heading into the field. The sampling event will be the labor intensive, but should also be fun and safe. The protocols will be new and your students will be gathering site-specific data that they have chosen from the Table of Field Variables. Below are some general considerations:

Protocols and Equipment

Download and read:

Have the students download any and all protocols, read through the protocols and assemble the materials. Your class may not take all the types of samples – so be sure to look at the specific materials list and protocols for your class’ sample type(s).


Have students troubleshoot all of the protocols and the sampling event ‐

  • How will we carry our gear to and from the field site?
  • What will we need that is not on any materials list (warm weather gear, water bottles with drinking water, rubber boots)
  • Should we invite parents?
  • Are there materials that show up on multiple lists- we can double up on them?

Contact your scientist:

Each macroinvertebrate sample is collected in bottles supplied by the laboratory. Your partnering scientist will provide you with sample bottles before the field season. Store these bottles in safe place until you are ready to use them. If there is any equipment that you do not have, but may be borrowing from or through your participating scientist now is the time to contact your participating scientist to request that equipment.

Assemble and/or build gear and materials:

Build and assemble all of the field gear needed. Use the protocols as a guide for students to assemble their own field equipment kits.


Data and Field Paperwork

Paperwork in the field:

Familiarize your students with the Acadia Learning field data sheet. Several data sheets may have to be prepared for parameters not on the Acadia Learning field data sheet. Students who are interested, or placed in charge of the collection of particular field data, should develop the system for recording those data.

Data flow:

Make sure that students understand what happens to the data and the samples once you have returned to the classroom (what needs to get uploaded on to the website and what does not).

Decisions to make


Whether there will be one person taking notes for the entire class, or if students will work in groups. If working in groups, there need to be at least 3 people per group: one to collect, one to manage the sample equipment, and one to take notes and fill out field data sheets.


A labeling system that you will be able to understand when the data come back from the lab. Keep labels short since lab technicians need to type them all into the computer! For example, “STREAMName-aboveculvert”, “STREAMName-belowculvert”. The labeling system does not matter to anyone except the class. The class needs to be able to interpret the labels later.

Health and Safety

Health and Safety Plan: Have students write a field Health and Safety plan- what should they bring into the field to stay warm, comfortable? What should they do if someone falls into the water?  How much hot cocoa should they pack?

After developing this plan one of our teachers writes up a list of personal requirements (lunch, boots, warm hat, etc.) and sends the list home in a note for parents to sign:

You may consider doing something similar.

Leave No Trace sampling plan: It is our goal to conduct sampling in a manner that does not adversely affect the environment. Discuss, or have students write, an action plan for Leave No Trace sampling.


  • Students recognize that field sampling to support their claim requires forethought


  • Students will have protocols and materials, including personal gear, assembled for a successful field event
  • Students will understand that they need to consider the safety of themselves, their group, and the environment when conducting field work

Where does this lesson happen in the Project?

This is the second lesson in Unit 4: Field Sampling to Support Your Claim. It follows Classroom Activity 1: Experimental Design.

Getting Ready

Make sure student have their sampling plan from Unit 4, Activity 1.


Students will need to assemble:

  • From Unit 3: Their hypotheses, questions, “data shopping list” or what they need for data.

If the students have been to the field site then assemble any information already collected. If they have not been to the site then use Google Earth to look at satellite photos of the site (for which they will need: Computer with Internet access)

Handouts (see also Lesson Resources)

  • Table of Field Variables
  • Fieldwork assessment
  • Field data sheet

Student Prerequisites

  •     Students must have their hypotheses and/or have all of their material from previous Units

Time Needed

One to two classes, if you are preparing a note to go home then do this in advance to give students time to return the sheet.

Doing the Activity

Explain to your students:

  • That field sampling needs to be conducted efficiently and well and discuss the Rule of Five P’s (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance)
  • Fieldwork is not only about using procedures and equipment for collecting high quality samples but is also about staying safe and keeping the environment as intact as is possible
  • The next one to two classes will be spent getting ready for field sampling

Students should:

  • Download the protocols that they will use for sampling
  • Review all protocols
  • Assemble or make all sampling equipment
  • Review the field data sheet
  • Make field sheet for any parameters that are not on the field data sheet

Initiate a discussion about personal and group safety- write all proposed, realistic suggestions on the board.

Initiate a discussion about Leave No Trace fieldwork- write all proposed, realistic suggestions on the board.



Troubleshoot with your students.


Collect your student’s fieldwork assessment form (they will have only filled out the preparatory section, you will have to give the form back to them).

Lesson Extensions and Supplements

Have your students run through "What if…” scenarios.

Review Leave No Trace sampling.

Lesson Resources

    Table of Field Variables
    Fieldwork assessment
    Field data sheet
    Fieldwork assessment (Teacher Edition- excel spreadsheet)
     There is not a super Leave No Trace (LNT) resource, but here’s a link to the LNT website: