On The River offered a variety of free, self-contained, and easy to integrate tools. By using adventure-linked education to connect students to content standards, the aim was to make authentic learning experiences that will last a lifetime. By connecting students to the water that flows through their town with an exciting canoe adventure from source to sea, we created relevant, engaging experiences for students across the country.
"[It was great] to meet lifelong learners who chose to be involved in science and conservation not because they had to or were getting paid to, but because they were passionate about it." -Mrs. Gillespie, 7th and 8th grade science
"My class loved getting to meet the On The River crew that we had been following in Science class. They also loved learning about all the gear ... and learning about the bull snake and the different, interesting plants we have around the river." - Mrs. Schilling, 5th grade
"[They] handled a group of kindergarteners so well with movement breaks and attention grabbers. The powerpoint definitely kept their attention too." -Mrs. Schuchard, Kindergarten
On The River strives to be both flexible and creative, to help individual teachers meet the needs of their classrooms. Sign-up for more information and review the programing we offer to help bring curriculum to life:
By integrating On The River across content areas, curriculum can come to life and become more engaging and relevant to students (you can read about our first successful 49-state bike tour and curriculum integration project here). We work with teachers to provide the resources they need. Programming included:
- Videos On The River: weekly videos made by the On The River team to show the diversity of the river and incorporate a theme drawn from state standards: everything from discussing adaptations of riparian wildlife to interviewing scientists studying the river. Even through the trip is over these videos are still a great resource for teachers.
- Route updates to learn geography
- Written correspondence as a reading and writing exercise
- River sketches for art assignments
- Skype phone calls to speak with adventurers and scientists
- Civic project advocating for clean water
- Letters from students upstream to students downstream explaining the goals they have to keep everyone’s water clean
- Math problems based on water flows, river miles, and all things numbers. Use our River Updates to create profile maps of the river and draw conclusions.
On The River Visits
This was a great opportunity for students to connect to their river, meet the team on the river and hear the story of the water flowing along side them. This was likely the most difficult to organize due to the logistics of scheduling and transportation, but rewards of connecting to nature close to home, working with scientists, and practicing observation skills made it well worth the effort. A typical river visit included:
- An introduction to our project and the river. Did you know that the Missouri and Mississippi River is the 4th largest river in the world and it connects to the ocean!?
- Hands-on demonstrations of all the gear needed to canoe for 6th months.
- Exploratory walk to find organisms that live near the river and make observations and sketches of them.
- A short trash pick-up and canoe signing pledge to send awareness not trash down the river.
Classroom visits let the river and a canoe adventure come to classrooms with photos, stories and lessons from the river. During our presentation we covered the gear we carry, the jobs of the river, diversity along the river, and how to help our rivers. Classroom visits were typically 50 minutes in length and could be adapted for classrooms or larger group assemblies. Classroom visits used in conjunction with river visits maximized the lessons and connection to the river.