These introductory guides are designed to assist Years F–8 teachers and environmental leaders in conducting effective waterbug monitoring sessions.
Waterbugs, or aquatic macroinvertebrates, are small creatures that have no backbone and can be seen with the naked eye. They live all or part of their life in the water, providing a food source for larger animals such as fish, frogs, birds and platypus.
Macroinvertebrate sampling complements water science analysis and can provide a quick assessment of the health of a particular waterway and site. When compared to other locations or at different times these assessments help us determine the health of, or changes that occur in, the aquatic ecosystem.
Download the guides
For teachers (Foundation to Year 8)
The activities in this guide enable students to act as scientists to identify and pose questions, gather and analyse data and draw conclusions to make evidence-based arguments about the health of a waterway. It also provides instructions for teachers collecting a waterbug sample for classroom use.
Field excursion experiences are a great way to enhance students’ involvement with their natural environment and can have a profound effect on their learning and wellbeing. Discovering waterbugs in your local waterway allows students to explore a fascinating ‘invisible’ world. It also showcases the work that aquatic ecologists and interested community volunteers do to protect our local waterways – and how students and their families can help.
For environmental leaders
This guide is designed to be used by groups of school-age children, such as environment clubs, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) clubs, after-school programs and community groups like Scouts. It uses the Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT) method to identify waterbugs, which can be done in the field without the need for a microscope.
Monitoring macroinvertebrates in your local area in a systematic way is an excellent hands-on activity for school-age groups. Participants can track the health of waterways across different sampling sites and monitor changes over time.
Watch the video
Waterbugs let us know how healthy our water is, and you can too. By joining the Waterbug Census and monitoring your local macroinvertebrates, you’ll help us check the health of our rivers and creeks.
Activity and colouring sheets
Download waterbug colouring and activity sheets, and more.