For the second year of Missouri River All-Stars, Missouri River Relief (MRR) partnered with the University of Missouri College of Education and engaged 125 fourth graders from Columbia Public Schools in after school programs. The goal of Missouri River All-Stars was to activate students’ innate sense of wonder and natural curiosity to explore the Missouri River, while increasing their knowledge and understanding of the river to deepen their connection and sense of responsibility to its care and stewardship.
Four schools participated in Missouri River All-Stars this year. Each school had four after school programs from March to May 2018 and one on-the-river field trip on April 29. During the after school programs, students learned about the Missouri River ecosystem and the impact that humans have on the river. They did this by going through stations, collaborating with their peers and problem solving. During the field trip, students also went through stations and got to experience the river firsthand. All-Stars also included a teacher curriculum development program that helped teachers collaborate with each other and integrate the river into their classrooms.
|A group of excited students getting ready for their day on the river. Lifejackets – CHECK!|
In the first lesson, Discovering the Missouri River, students worked in groups to learn about claims, evidence and reasoning. They practiced making claims using evidence and reasoning through a picture walk. The students examined photos from a news article and then predicted what the article would be about. Next, students got in small groups to read and discuss the article “Our Missouri River.”
|Students discuss “Our Missouri River” with Darcy Higgins, the All-Stars program instructor.|
In one station, students used a model of the pallid sturgeon’s life cycle to review important factors of transitioning from one life stage to the next. In another, the students drew predictions to explain how the pallid sturgeon is adapted to feeding on the dark, sandy bottom of the river. In a third station students created their own questions and defined problems based on observations of the historical range of the pallid sturgeon. In the last station, students watched a short video about the pallid sturgeon’s larvae drift and created Venn Diagrams of the survival and challenges the larva face.
|Darcy Higgins poses questions for curious fourth graders during the after school program.|
|Students discover the effects dams have on rivers by building their own models.|
On April 29, the students had an on-the-river experience. The focus of the day was Recovery Plan for the Pallid Sturgeon. The students arrived at Katfish Katy’s at 10 a.m. and divided into four groups. The groups participated in two stations, had a break for lunch and then finished off the day with two more stations.
|Students spent the day outside on the Missouri River All-Stars On-the-River day, experiencing the river firsthand and applying what they learned in the after school programs.|
|Students are ready to set sail for a boat ride!|
|Classroom knowledge and real-life experiences intertwined during the Through the Eyes of a Scientist activity.|
|Nothing beats lounging along the riverbank! Students use watercolors to paint the Missouri River, much like Lewis and Clark did.|
|Carrie Elliot and Dave Combs, biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey, teach students about their research techniques.|
Teacher curriculum workshops:
Another facet of the All-Stars program was a behind-the-scenes teacher workshop. In the workshop, teachers used their Missouri River All-Stars experiences to develop and adapt their own lesson plans about the Missouri River. The teachers met once a week for four weeks at the College of Education office to collaborate and plan.
|Teachers learn together with the MU College of Education|
The fourth after-school lesson, titled Scientific Arguments for Pallid Sturgeon Management, took place after the field trip. It addressed how scientists use claims, evidence and reasoning when debating solutions, specifically regarding pallid sturgeon recovery. In this lesson, the students split into two groups and developed their own solutions for pallid sturgeon recovery. Their plans included evidence and concepts addressed in previous lessons. Students had to consider the short and long term effects of their plans, who would be affected and what the next steps would be once their plan was put into action. The two groups then presented and debated their plans. The lesson concluded with students reflecting on how their views of the pallid sturgeon issue had changed since the beginning of the Missouri River All-Stars program.
|Collaboration is key when it comes to problem solving and pallid sturgeon management.|