For Teachers
Quick Links
Concepts explored
in this eTrip
Lesson Plans
Video Clips
Web Links

The Firehole River flows through three major geyser basins in Yellowstone National Park and receives thermal input from numerous geysers and hot springs. This 55 minute interactive program investigates alterations in the chemical and physical characteristics of the stream, as well as changes in the habitats and life histories of the river’s living organisms. The program urges viewers to ponder what constitutes a damaged ecosystem and consider how this naturally warmed river may reflect or predict changes in streams exposed to human-caused thermal pollution. Video clips showcase investigations of the Firehole River by local students and researchers, while the program’s subject matter is reinforced by in-trip activities and quizzes.

The Ask an Expert Message Board is available from November 1-3, 2006. Resource experts will be available to answer your students’ questions. The questions and answers will remain accessible after the message board has been deactivated.

This eTrip features a note-taking function. Viewers should click on the "Open Notes" button to add, edit, or update their comments as the trip progresses. Instructors may want to direct students to answer the questions on the "yellow post-its" on each separate screen of the program or ask students to keep notes on the eTrip’s content as desired. The notes can be printed by pressing the “Print” button. They can also be copied by highlighting the desired section, selecting the copy function by right-clicking the mouse, then pasting the notes into a word processor document.

For a list of education standards applicable to this field trip, please visit the Standards Page.If time permits, students may wish to attend the Park Orientation program before taking this electronic field trip.

Getting Into Hot Water

What percentage of water in the Firehole River comes from geysers and hot springs? What are some consequences of thermal pollution? What do aquatic macroinvertebrates reveal about a stream’s water quality? Does “natural state” refer to the purest water quality of a stream? How are trout in Yellowstone affected by thermal changes in water? How do the park’s heat-altered streams compare with water that has been thermally polluted elsewhere?

Download a printable, Adobe Acrobat pdf version of the "Getting Into Hot Water" screen script (167KB pdf).

Concepts explored in this eTrip
  1. The influx of hydrothermal water affects the physical and chemical characteristics of the Firehole River, as well as the habitats of the river’s organisms.
  2. Study of the Firehole River, a stream which has been naturally thermally altered for thousands of years, may help predict the long range effects of human-caused thermal pollution on other waterways.
  3. The organisms living within an ecosystem reflect the environmental conditions present.
  4. The life histories of organisms may change with alterations in their environmental conditions.
  5. Scientific inquiry must explore the relationships between evidence and possible explanations.

Lesson Plans

Two tiny shells of mud snails fit easily on a dime. Pre Electronic Field Trip
Mystery of the Missing Bugs

Post Electronic Field Trip
Firehole in the Classroom
Gibbon River Study
River Run


Video Clips

There are four streaming video clips in the Flash/high bandwidth version of this field trip. They appear on pages 10, 19, 30, and 38. You can use the following links to launch them in Windows Media Player format.

Macroinvertebrate Sampling
Streaming Video

ParKids at Kepler Cascades
Streaming Video

ParKids at Biscuit Basin
Streaming Video

Sensitive vs Tolerant Macroinvertebrates
Streaming Video

Free player: Windows Media

Web Links



Water Quality and Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

Yellowstone Fish

Firehole River

   Book References

These sites represent some, but not all, of the resources found online. If you know of other sites you would like to share with students and educators participating in this electronic field trip, please contact us so that we can post them.