Long-Term Student Project Keeps Creek Information Flowing

Video and text by FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

BARRINGTON, R.I. —For the past seven years St. Luke’s eighth-grade science classes under the direction of teacher Doreen Schift have been studying the conditions of and life in Annawamscutt Creek.

Melissa Guillet’s third- and fourth-grade classes at the Waddington School joined the study project in 2015, and Donna Long’s fifth-grade class came aboard a year later.

Longtime Barrington resident and self-proclaimed citizen scientist Sandra Wyatt, who hatched the idea and has watched it grow, recently told ecoRI News that the original plan behind the creek study was for the four schools — St. Luke’s in Barrington and East Providence’s Waddington, Oldham Elementary and Riverside Middle — located next to or near the Annawamscutt Creek to become stewards of it; study the conditions of the water and the macroinvertebrates that live in it, the environment and watershed through which it passes, and the natural and human stresses; and to engage in mitigation activities such as clearing trash, removing invasive plants, planting native buffers next to the creek, and installing rain gardens.

Wyatt said she has hope the other two schools will join the study in the near future.

The primary goals of the study, she said, are: hands-on student learning about the conditions and life of the creek; educating the abutting communities and property owners about the impacts of stormwater runoff, pesticides, and fertilizers; and creating an ongoing data bank to track the health of the creek.

Annawamscutt Creek is about 6 miles long and extends south from Forbes Road in East Providence to Allin’s Cove in Barrington. It runs past a closed landfill on Forbes Road that is now the site of a utility-scale solar array, through residential areas, between two shopping malls, and through Haines Park.

ecoRI News visited with Wyatt, Schift, Ginger Brown, a dragonfly/damselfly expert with extensive experience in macroinvertebrate identification who volunteers her time working with the kids, and an eighth-grade class from St. Luke’s on Nov. 5 at Haines Park. The above video documents the hour-long visit.