May 4, 2007

Sioux Passage Learning Festival - May 4, 2007

Water Education in the Rain
by Vicki Richmond and Steve Schnarr

With a resounding splash, 274 middle school students from the Hazelwood School District headed down to the Big Muddy for a day of serious water education at Sioux Passage Park.

Protected from the drenching rain with trash bag ponchos, the students toured 16 learning stations with an emphasis on water. These education booths were staffed by stalwart agency, corporate, and nonprofit presenters who endured a 1 ½ inch rain.

A strange sea of umbrellas stood inside a 24 foot trash hauling boat and beside the double 225 HP engines of the Missouri Water Patrol boat. Educators from Missouri American Water demonstrated how turbid water from the "Big Muddy" gets tranformed into drinking water. Americorps volunteers showed off a collection of macroinvertebrates while Mark Van Patten showed how he ties masterful fishing flies. AEP River Operations brought a display on the economical uses of barges on our big rivers. Not deterred by a rainy day, Troy Gordon of the Friends of the big Muddy (with his two daughters patiently huddled under his pop-up tent) amazed kids and chaperones with an enormous snapping turtle, found in the same habitat that rings the park.

A planned picnic lunch became lunch on the bus and/or huddled under tents as the rain slowly tapered off. We couldn't help but be impressed by the toughness of the kids, teachers and presenters that stayed during the whole soggy event.

Special Thanks to event Coordinator Lynne Hooper, for pulling this together on a day with a myriad of conflicts, and to Hazelwood Science Coordinator Susan Raney for rolling up her sleeves and joining right in the soggy fun.

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