First Trip to the Rio Brazos

Last Thursday was our very first trip to the Rio Brazos with our Tierra Amarilla 5th and 6th graders. We’ve been to the Rio Chama several times now. It’s time to compare the Chama with one of its important tributaries.

Northern New Mexico got quite a bit of snow early last week, and we found areas with up to 6 inches still on the ground on Thursday! Fortunately our students in Tierra Amarilla are prepared for snow. Everybody was bundled up and ready to go.

Doling out waders
Donning our waders
Headed toward the river

We split students into two groups: one explored the snowy meadow and learned about animal tracks. The other went to the river to look for benthic macroinvertebrates.

Comparing the difficulty of running through deeper snow with walking on a path that has already been tracked out.

Tierra Amarilla is an excellent place to discuss tracking because there’s a wide variety of wildlife. Our students learned how the size and weight of an animal affect its tracks, how to determine which direction the animal was moving, and characteristics of a few types of animals.

Debating over a track
Looking at more tracks!
Hypothesizing about the animal that made this track

After all of this tracking, we had to explore the snow just a little. We also talked briefly about hydrology and the importance of snow to New Mexico vegetation.

Getting an up-close-and-personal look at the snow.
Looking out at the snowy landscape

Meanwhile, the other group of students was making their way to the river.

Ducking under low hanging branches.

We spent some time discussing how this river looks different from the Rio Chama. We found quite a variety of benthic macroinvertebrates, including caddis and mayflies.

Summarizing the day’s finds.

Up next: measuring water quality on the Rio Brazos!


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