April 13, 2020

The Great Missouri River Scavenger Hunt

Hello Families and Friends,
Are you running out of easy, creative ideas to entertain the family? Missouri River Relief and Show-Me Stormwater are here to help. We would like to invite your family to participate in The Great Missouri River Scavenger Hunt! We have teamed up to create an adventure challenge just for you.  Are you up for it? Let’s get started!

Goal: to help connect you to your local watershed, have fun in a creek, learn about food webs and how animals are dependent on healthy creeks, and last but not least find ways to help make your creek a better habitat for all animals.

Audience: 2nd-5th Grade

Location: If you’re not able to go to a creek, many of these tasks can be done with a computer that has internet. Alternately, if you do not have internet, many of the tasks can be enjoyed outside.

Approximate time needed for each part of the adventure: 

  • Task #1 30 minutes
  • Task #2-6 30 minutes - 1 hour
  • Task #7-8 1-2 hours
  • Task #9-10 5 minutes 

Materials: a computer or tablet with internet, permission to use social media, transportation to a creek (could be your legs or a bicycle), camera, litter bag, snacks, water, paper and something to draw with.

Concepts covered with parental guidance include pollination (2-3rd grade), watersheds (3-4th grade), and food webs (5th grade).

Safety: Please follow CDC guidance on personal hygiene when going outside and observe CDC’s minimum recommended physical distance of 6 feet from other persons at all times. Do not use parks or trails if you are exhibiting symptoms.

Keep reading to participate or click here for the pdf.

Are you ready for your first task? 

Let’s get started!

Task #1 Find your watershed. Discovering your watershed is like mapping where rain travels, like a road map for rain drops. Find what creek “roads” a rain drop follows in your Boone County neighborhood on its way to the Missouri River by going to this website. If you live outside of Boone County, you can still participate! Try finding your watershed at the websites listed below and then skip part B and C:
 - Watersheds of the Kansas City Region
 - Watershed Inventory of Missouri
 - Missouri’s Watersheds

a) Read about watersheds and how you can help keep our creeks healthy! 

b) Then click on the map, find the magnifying glass, click and type in your address.


c) Click again below the search result box, it will zoom to your watershed and tell how the water flows! 

d) What is your watershed? How does your creek find its way to the Missouri River? 
For example; if you live in the Flat Branch watershed, Flat branch flows to the Hinkson > Hinkson flows to the Perche > Perche flows to the Missouri! Zoom out on the map to find where your creek flows.

e) Sing along to Dem Creeks at this site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuuexjlHuD0 

Time to get ready for an adventure at your watershed creek; bring snacks, water, a litter bag, a camera and anything else you might want for your adventure!

Task #2 Now that you know your watershed creek, you can learn more about the animals in your    neighborhood that need clean water. You can also make your watershed safer for animals.

Next step: Find a public area along your creek to visit. If you live in Columbia, MO use page 5 of this map to help you find your creek. When you get to your creek, take a picture! Post your picture with the name of your creek on social media. Use #MoRiverScavengerHunt

Task #3 Find a flower blooming. Take a picture and try to identify it when you get home.

Task #4 Find an insect pollinating a flower.

Task #5 Find something that does not belong in nature and could harm critters. Hint: this is why you brought your litter bag!

Task #6 Think of (or observe) a critter that needs clean water: a bird, mammal (squirrel), reptile (snake) or amphibian (frog).

Time to head home and discover more about your critter (and your flower) here . 

Task #7 Find some paper and draw your critter!

Task #8 Now list or draw 3 things that your critter eats and 3 things that like to eat your critter. Post your drawing and use #MoRiverScavengerHunt

Herbivores eat plants- Rabbit, Deer, & Beaver
Omnivores eat plants and animals- Songbirds & Squirrels
Carnivores eat animals only- Snake, Owl, & Frog
Death & Decay helps complete the life cycle- Snail, Mushroom, & Turkey Vulture

If I chose River Otter:
3 things that River Otters eats and 3 things that eat a River Otter!
Eats: Clams, Fish, Grasses
Eaten by: Bobcats, Coyotes, Hawks
Is a River Otter an Herbivore, Omnivore or Carnivore?

Congratulations, you have made a food web! You also discovered your creek, learned about critters that might use your creek, and you picked up litter. Picking up litter saves critters lives. You are now a trash hero! If you would like to meet some more trash heroes, continue on to complete the Great Missouri River Scavenger Hunt!

Task #9 Find Missouri River Relief on the web. How many tons of trash from the Missouri River have these heroes picked up since they began in 2001. Wow, that’s a lot of trash!

Task #10 All done? Fill out this form to receive your prize in the mail! Everyone who participates wins!

Thank you for joining in the game! 
Can’t wait to see your photos!


Want to get involved with a litter pick up? Contact Missouri River Relief or the City of Columbia.

More information about Food Webs:

 - For younger kids: What is a Food Chain? 
 - For older kids: Who’s in My Backyard? 

Created by Michele Woolbright with Boone County Stormwater and Laura Semken, an AmeriCorps VISTA service member serving Missouri River Relief, 2020

March 30, 2020

Field Trip FAQ's for Adults & Kids

Who is Missouri River Relief? 
Missouri River Relief (MRR) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to connect people to the Missouri River. We do this through hands-on river clean-ups, education programs, and outreach events. Since our founding in 2001, MRR has hosted 184 Missouri River cleanups, bringing 27,865 volunteers to help remove more than 940 tons of trash and teaching over 25,852 students and teachers about the Missouri River. To learn more, visit www.riverrelief.org

What type of boats will we be in? 
We will be on the Missouri River in a 24-foot open boat, with an aluminum plate and 115-horsepower marine motors. Each boat holds 10-12 passengers.

What types of activities could be involved in an educational field trip? 
Below is a sampling of some of the activities we like to include:

  • Station 1: Meet a Fisheries Biologist
Students get up close and personal with the fish that call the Missouri River home as they meet some of the scientists that are helping the river's ecosystem.

  • Station 2: Observation is a Skill
Using cottonwood forest as our laboratory, students will make careful observations and ask questions to learn about the plants found in the Missouri River bottom.

  • Station 3: Through the Eyes of an Explorer
Studying the observations and sketches from the scientific journals of Lewis and Clark, students will learn how to create a watercolor sketch of their own to bring home.

  • Station 4: Experience the River (Boat Ride)
Students will receive a one-of-a-kind learning experience that incorporates spectacular views of the Missouri River all while learning about the channelization of the river.

How is safety going to be handled on the river? 
Safety is our number one priority; we will provide all participants with a safety talk and lifejackets before going on the boat ride. Participants do not need to know how to swim because we will not be entering the water. Experienced boat captains pilot our 24-foot aluminum plate boats. All boat captains have completed boat operator training and are assisted by deckhands.

What should I tell a parent/guardian that is apprehensive about the field trip?  
There is several options; (1) have them contact Kristen Schulte the MRR Education Director. We would be happy to provide information about our safety practices, the river, and our motorboats. (2) invite them on the field trip so they can experience it first hand and/or (3) offer for their student to stay on land during the boat ride experience if they are specifically concerned about the boat experience.

What is the option for students not participating in the boat ride experience? 
If a parent/guardian chooses not to allow their child on the river, we will have the student stay on land and provide alternative supervised activities. Please note that if they are staying on land, we still need a signed risk release form.

The Risk Release form contains a photo/media consent clause. I do not want anyone taking pictures of my child. What can I do? Please go ahead and sign the risk release form and write in that you do not give permission for photos or media. We will arrange for that request.

What if my student needs additional support during the field trip? 
If you have a student that needs additional support (i.e., mobility, visual or hearing impairments), please let Kristen Schulte at kristen@riverrelief.org know ahead of time, and we can make arrangements and/or accommodations.

How should participants prepare for a field trip?
Below are the basic ways to come prepared:
Dress comfortably; bring a jacket and hat and come prepared for the weather.
Wear sturdy footwear that you are willing to get muddy. (i.e., sneakers/boots, no sandals)
Water bottle and sunscreen.

Will we receive photos from our field trip? 
Yes, Missouri River Relief will post photos on our Flickr account for you to download at https://www.flickr.com/photos/riverrelief/. We also encourage teachers to bring their cameras to take photos as well, as we will not be able to get a picture of every student during the program.

Is Missouri River Relief on Social Media? 
Yes, we have a Facebook Page that we encourage you to visit, check out and like us.

FAQ’s for Kids!

Are there sharks?
No, but there are some fish that could weigh up to 100 pounds or more! https://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/2017-08/missouris-monster-fish

Do we get to go swimming in the river?
Not today.

How fast can the boat go? 
Faster than a wooden canoe. If you sped down a hill on your bike as fast as you could possibly go, about that fast; 25-30 mph.

Do I have to go on the boat ride (I’m feeling a little scared)?
Some things that are fun can also be a little scary. Luckily our boat operators are top notch boat captains, here to make sure you are safe and that your experience is rewarding. Anything we can do to make you feel safer, we will do.

November 26, 2019

Developing Missouri River Days: Pre & Post Curriculum

By Kristen Schulte and Carly Hopkins

Sunglasses on and covered in unidentifiable bug bites after attending National Great River Research & Education Center (NGRREC) training week, Carly drove down I-70 to her research placement: Missouri River Relief. Carly would spend the next 9 weeks developing and piloting a pre-post curriculum for "Missouri River Days" a half-day field trip that takes the entire 4th grade on the Missouri River in Columbia Public Schools. 

No big deal. She had written some educational material before and thought she knew generally how it was going to go. Research, write, go through 2-3 drafts, and call it done.  She even thought she could complete the project way ahead of schedule. 

Turns out, learning how children best learn and writing lesson plans around a certain layout was all new to Carly.  In the past, she had written things more to just have concepts flow from one another and kind of wrote a lesson plan based on that format.  Kristen, the Education Director of Missouri River Relief soon taught her the importance of having set understandings, knowledge, and skills you want students to walk away with along with specific exercises for them to use while learning.  The hardest part of all was letting go of any previous concepts about curriculum and diving headfirst into relearning about proper development.

Observing lessons being pilots by Russell Blvd Elementary Teacher
Carly then piloted these lessons with some local grade school teachers during their summer school sessions.  This may have been one of her favorite parts of the whole internship. She shared that "there’s something amazing about seeing your work unfold. The feeling of hearing the teachers read the words that went through countless revisions, and the kids absorbing it, falls nothing short of complete elation."

The teachers gave Carly their feedback through surveys, and she tweaked lessons accordingly. She shared that "the most impactful part of it all was actually getting to compile all the lesson plans and supporting material to be distributed in the local grade schools".  

Thanks to Carly's hard work and effort, Missouri River Days is now a two-part experience that combines a pre-post curriculum that is standard-based with a half-day field trip on the Missouri River at Cooper’s Landing.
  • Part One: Pre-Post Curriculum: There are two pre lessons and one post.  These lessons are each 35 minutes in length and are meant to introduce the students to topics they will encounter on the field trip. The lessons are also interdisciplinary and align to 4th Grade Columbia Public School standards.  
  • Part Two: Field Trip: The field trip is offered during three specific times during the fall and spring school year, allowing schools to choose a date in either the specified fall or spring semester that best fits their needs. During the field trip, students will leave their lab coats and pocket protectors behind; to do science, Missouri River Relief style. They will investigate the mysteries behind the longest river in North America and learn what makes it tick. 

Students learn about the Missouri River during the summer school pilot

Part One: Pre-Post Curriculum Overview
You might be wondering what standards and activities are involved in each of the lesson plans. below is an overview of each of the lessons. 

Pre Lesson 1: Forces that Shape the Missouri River

Overview: This lesson uses historic photos of the Missouri River to engage students in the exploration of how humans have changed the Missouri River.

Columbia Public School Standards: 
4th Grade Social Studies
  • Describe how Missouri has changed (and stayed the same) over time. 
4th Grade Science
  • Students will be able to analyze & interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features. 
Lesson Objectives: 
  • Students will understand the complexities of our relationship with the Missouri River.
  • Students will know how the Missouri River has changed over time.
  • Students will be able to explain how humans have impacted the Missouri River. 

Pre Lesson 2: Missouri River Geography Affects Us

Overview: This lesson uses scenario cards to explore students' understanding of weathering and erosion, and to spark a discussion about how the Missouri River shapes where we choose to live. 

Columbia Public School Standards: 
4th Grade Social Studies
  • Students will be able to explain how Missouri’s physical geography affects the way its citizens live.
4th Grade Science
  • Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation.
Lesson Objectives:
  • Students will understand the weathering and erosion that shape the Missouri River.
  • Students will know how the Missouri River’s geography affects the way we live.
  • Students will be able to identify the various effects of weathering and erosion.

Post Lesson 3: The Art of Storytelling with Science Practices

Overview: This lesson explores the value of storytelling in science and the structure of a personal narrative while encouraging students to reflect on science practices they engaged in during the “Missouri River Days” field trip. 

Columbia Public School Standards: 
4th Grade Social Studies
  • Describe how Missouri has changed (and stayed the same) over time.
4th Grade Writing
  • Students will be able to recognize and compose narrative texts (e.g. personal narrative, memoir, short fiction, biography).
Lesson Objectives:
  • Students will understand the value of a personal narrative.
  • Students will know key components of a personal narrative. 
  • Students will be able to write a personal narrative based on their own experiences. 
Students learn about the history of the Missouri River during the summer school pilot

Below are comments from Columbia Public School summer teachers that piloted the lessons:

“I would definitely use these lessons in my classroom again. The students were able to recall the information and were for the most part engaged throughout the entire lessons.” 

 “The pre-lessons would help the students be more aware of what they are observing on the actual Missouri River Days.  It gives them some good background knowledge that they can build upon during the field trip.” 

“The lesson plans were engaging and students were interested in the material….The information was very relevant to students, as they will all participate in the Missouri River Days trip.”

For 4th grade Columbia Public School teachers, the pre-post curriculum has been compiled into binders with supporting material already printed and has been provided to the science department. Binders were dropped off at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year with the science department materials. 

If you have a problem locating the pre-post curriculum binders, please contact either Mike Szydlowski at mszydlowski@cpsk12.org / (573) 214-3945 or MRR Education Director, Kristen Schulte at kristen@riverrelief.org / (573) 443-0292.  

Carly presenting her Research Project at the National Great River's Research & Education Center Symposium