Keeping the Balance

Each spring and fall, UVM WA sponsors the Keeping the Balance Program. Schools and student groups from throughout the state visit the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory to explore lake ecology and scientific research in the Lake Champlain Basin, led by our undergraduate Watershed Educators from the University of Vermont. Typically, programs consist of one 2-hour indoor/outdoor classroom session where students are engaged in hands-on activities, a short presentation, and discussions to learn about the following:

  • Lake Champlain Ecology (Food Web & Energy cycles)
  • Lake Biodiversity (Native vs. Non-native species)
  • Lake/Watershed Nutrient Pollution (Eutrophication, Algal Bloom)
  • Lake Champlain and Environmental Stewardship (Best Management Practices)

Click here for more program details


Essential Questions

How does Lake Champlain’s ecosystem keep itself in a healthy balance, how does it function, and how can it be disturbed/altered?

Main Objectives

•Students will learn about Lake Champlain dynamics, producer/consumer relationships, and will embody lake organisms to construct an interactive diagram of the Lake Champlain food web through the Food Web Activity 

•Students investigate and examine Lake Champlain ecology, biota, producer/consumer relationships and energy conversion, from photosynthesis by phytoplankton to decomposition by bacteria, through the Plankton Investigation

•Students will learn the difference between native and non-native species, both of which inhabit Lake Champlain and surrounding basin waters through the Native vs. Non-native Relay Race

•Students will understand how eutrophication occurs, nutrient inputs, and ways to reduce nutrient levels in the lake and surrounding basin waters during classroom discussion

•Students will learn about Lake/Watershed stewardship, and how to participate in ecologically responsible practices through the Best Management Practices Jeopardy

Key Program Activities

The Keeping the Balance curriculum is broken down into 4 modules, with corresponding activities:

Module: Lake Dynamics

Activity: Food Web Activity                                 Length: 1 Hour

Module: Lake Ecology

Activity: Plankton Investigation                            Length: 1 Hour-1 1/2 Hour

Module: Lake/Watershed Issues    

Activity: Native vs. Non-native Relay Race            Length: 1/2 Hour

Module: Lake/Watershed Stewardship

Activity: Best Management Practices Jeopardy      Length: 1/2 Hour