Trivia Night (Streams)

Robinson Nature Center in Columbia, Maryland held its second Trivia Night, with a program entitled “Streams and Such.”  The guest instructor was Don Boward, the principal author of the Maryland Biological Stream Survey (MBSS) monitoring protocol, and manager of the Maryland Stream Waders Program and Maryland Water Monitoring Council.  See more about Don at  The beer was supplied by a local Laurel, Maryland brewery known as Jailbreak, which was excellent.


I had conflicted alliances, as I was part of my usual trivia team of neighbors and friends, and then also a team consisting of fellow employees from the company I work with.  In this photo we have Jenifer and Tom D’Asto behind me, and then Dan Betz, Cindy and Ben Weaver, Jim Chaisson and my wife Michelle.  Our team name was “Bee-Cause.”  Dan was lobbed a softball question on snakeheads and nailed it.


My fellow work mates Stephanie Pruett, Justin Frye, Leslie Wood-Mummert, Molly Ratz, Amy Hennessey, and then Dave and Michelle Knorr.  The ESA team was called the “Stone Rollers.”  The other competing teams referred to us as the “consultants.”


With a D-Net in hand, Don Boward explains that anyone can become a stream steward, including my wife Michelle.


A pumpkin decorating exercise became part of the program where each team could gain “mulligan” points toward their final score.  Tom D’Asto shows off the team Bee-Cause entry.


Mind you, each team had but 2-minutes to complete the decorating task.  Michelle, Stephanie, Justin and Leslie corroborate on the team Stone Rollers design.


If only we had knives for carving!


Each team had to draw (120-seconds) and then explain the various negative effects of urban run-off.  In this photo, EPA lawyer, Michelle Knorr takes a legalize approach on how a receiving stream gets hammered from parking lot run-off.


When the dust cleared, team Stone Rollers walked away with a convincing, 100-point victory!


Dave Knorr (left) and Amy Hennessey (right) say hi to Don Boward (center).  Both Dave and Amy took stream biology and MBSS classes from Don years ago and have been surprisingly able to retain the majority of what Don taught them.

Now for some trivia.  The whirligig beetle has two sets of eyes, two above the head for looking up and above the water line, and two eyes below the head for looking down underwater!  Yes, you read that correctly.  They swim rapidly in circles when alarmed.  Apparently, when captured and squished in your fingers they will smell like pineapple.  The black metallic colored whirligigs employ an internal radar, using water ripples to detect food, as they primarily eat various insects. They belong to a family of aquatic insects known as Gyrinidae (gyrate), which in Latin means “circle.”

And now for a fun story.  We have two streams in our back fields at home in Clarksville, Howard County.  They are know as Tier II, high quality catchments.  We have several species of fish, including yellow-breasted sunfish, fallfish, smallmouth bass and a good few species of dace, shiners, chubs, minnows and freshwater oysters.  My son Michael made a freshwater aquarium display for the house and did a collection from the stream in the backyard including salamanders and crayfish.  With the aquarium being warm, the rosyside dace immediately went into bright red breeding colors.

In the attached flyer prepared by Mr. Boward, he identifies relatively common fish species found in Maryland coastal plain and Piedmont streams.  Fish species can be indicators of relative health, and the rosyside dace are a “marker” fish for high quality water, as they are highly pollution sensitive.  Nice to know that they are common in the two streams on our property.

Common Fish

We understand that the next Robinson Nature Center trivia night will be related to astronomy.