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Payson High School student Rockell Schmidt (left) and her fellow ecology classmates went on a field trip recently to the East Verde River. The students are studying the relationships between living things and their environment.

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Testing the waters

High school ecology class examines the East Verde

Kalynn Roggenstein, a junior at Payson High School (PHS), reached between the rocks to grab the gigantic spider. Her classmates gasped at her boldness. They wanted nothing to do with the eight-legged creature until Roggenstein safely put the 2.5-inch-long arachnid in a sieve. “We let everybody look at it,” she said, “then we took measurements and wrote down information to identify it.” Roggenstein loves to study macro-invertebrates, the scientific name for spiders and other critters that have a hard outer shell. She found the spider during a field trip with PHS science instructor Beverly Adams. Adams takes her ecology students to test the waters of the East Verde River to study the science of the environment, macro-invertebrates like the spider, are a vital part of the lesson.

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