CRW in the Community!

The CRW Conservation and Public Outreach Team participated in the 9th Annual Celebrating Water Event at Clackamas Community College on April 15th.  What were they up to? Plankton races of course!

Kids at CW 2

Students build their plankton at the Celebrating Water Event held at Clackamas Community College.

What are plankton? Plankton are organisms that exist in a drifting, floating state in aquatic environments. The term plankton is a collective name for all such organisms and includes certain algae, bacteria, protozoans, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as representatives from almost every other phylum of animals. Although many plankton are microscopic some can be very large, for example jellyfish in the ocean are plankton!

Plankton are important for a variety of reasons. They provide a crucial source of food to many large aquatic organisms, such as fish. Some plankton, such as phytoplankton, provide oxygen through photosynthesis. While other plankton, like bacterioplankton, play an important role in remineralizing organic material down the water column.


Student built plankton

At the 9th Annual Celebrating Water Event elementary school students were challenged to design and build their very own plankton. The students learned that plankton have a variety of unique adaptations which help them avoid sinking below the photic zone as they were challenged to construct plankton models from materials of various shapes and densities to simulate adaptations that slow sinking. Simply put the trick was to build one that wouldn’t float like a cork or sink like a stone!


Students race their plankton!

These races are meant to simulate the properties of plankton. A fast sinking plankton wouldn’t be able to drift along with the currents! In plankton races it’s the slowest sinker that wins!