Welcome to the Leaf Pack Network, an international network of people investigating their local stream ecosystems. Leaf Pack Network is part of WikiWatershed, an initiative of Stroud Water Research Center to help people advance knowledge and stewardship of fresh water.

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Exploring Ecosystem Engineers With the Rock Pack Experiment

For more than two decades, the Leaf Pack Network® of teachers, students, and citizen monitors around the world have used leaf packs to investigate their local stream ecosystems. By using the Leaf Pack Network Stream Ecology Kit sold by the LaMotte Company and original curricula by Stroud Water Research Center, participants enhance their understanding of stream ecosystems, learn scientific principles, and demonstrate the importance of streamside forests.

The resources and activities available through the Leaf Pack Network are valuable tools for establishing baseline water quality conditions and periodic monitoring of a local waterway.

Building on this success, scientists and educators from Montana State University and Stroud Water Research Center have created an exciting extension of the Leaf Pack Network: the Rock Pack Experiment.

The team discovered that like leaf packs, rock packs simulate natural processes in healthy streams while creatively engaging everyday citizens and students in freshwater science. The new programming integrates many of the concepts that make leaf packs powerful learning tools, such as the role of freshwater macroinvertebrates in food webs and water quality.

The Rock Pack Experiment combines STEM topics of engineering, ecology, geomorphology, and mathematics in stream ecosystems through the world of the net-spinning caddisfly. Interactive and hands-on activities can be used indoors or outdoors in a 7th-12th grade lesson plan to get students excited about insects and rocks in streams and to learn interdisciplinary science skills and real-world science research applications.

Through a Division of Environmental Biology Ecosystem Studies grant funded by the National Science Foundation, the team has developed monitoring methods, lessons for students, a manual, video presentations, posters, handouts, and more.

Check out the Rock Pack Experiment page to view these resources and learn how you can get involved in this exciting new program!