Exploring the Big Muddy: A Virtual Field Trip

All aboard! It’s a virtual excursion on the Missouri River, where every moment brings a new experience. Our virtual field trip incorporates spectacular views of limestone bluffs, eagles' nests, and enduring artwork, as well as insider’s knowledge about the river imparted by our crew.

This virtual field trip is a unique tool for developing a deeper understanding of the Missouri River.

Why Choose Our Virtual Field Trip For Your Classroom?

The virtual field trip Aligns to Six 4th Grade Science and Social Studies Standards:

4th Grade Next Generation Science Standards

  • 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support growth, behavior and reproduction.
  • 4-ESS1-1. Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time.
  • 4-ESS2-1. Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind or vegetation.

4th Grade Level Expectations for Social Studies Standards

  • EG.5.B.a Name and locate specific regions, states, capitals, river systems and mountain ranges in the United States based on historical or current topics.
  • EG.5.C.a Identify and compare physical characteristics of specific regions within the nation, such as climate, topography, relationship to water and ecosystems.
  • EG.5.G.a Use geography to interpret the past and predict future consequences as appropriate to topics or eras discussed. (e.g., why rivers have played an important role in human transportation) and predict future consequences (e.g., what will likely happen if the population of a city increases considerably).

Major Highlights of the Virtual Field Trip

 

 

AmeriCorps Education Assistant Laura Waldo-Semken describes the weathering and erosion processes which formed the Big Manitou Bluffs when large glaciers covering much of the North American continent melted 130,000 years ago. Laura then discusses the formation of the limestone rock which makes up the face of the bluffs along with the reason why there are so many small fossils in the Missouri area.

 

 

Later on, the audience joins Laura on California Island. This island is located near Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area. Laura discusses the history of steamboat commerce and travel along the Missouri River and the decision to engineer the river to be safer for boats. Laura explains the process of channelization and how it has changed the geography of the river.

 

 

Missouri River Relief’s Executive Director, Steve Schnarr, explains some of the consequences of channelization in relation to native species. Steve explains how the changes made negatively affected certain animals who were adapted to the area prior to channelization, resulting in animals like the Pallid Sturgeon becoming endangered species. Steve continues to discuss current efforts to help these endangered species by building better-suited habitats, like Tadpole Chute, along the Missouri River that are similar to the river’s original form which will help them reproduce and grow in population.

Inspired by Place

This Virtual Field Trip is inspired by place-based learning. Students are able to connect with the location and form learning associations with a set place in mind. This boosts interest, relevance and self-awareness in students. This particular field trip was filmed near the I-70 Bridge in central Missouri. California Island, the island that Laura visits, is indicated on the map.

 

Interdisciplinary Learning in Nature

The virtual field trip takes an interdisciplinary approach to educating students by placing topics in scientific, social and historical contexts. Place-based education, like a field trip, is inherently interdisciplinary as it provides a more complete representation of the concepts addressed. This approach reflects real-world learning scenarios and increases engagement amongst students.

Companion Guide to Support Your Viewing Experience

To enhance your classroom’s viewing experience, we have created a companion guide for educators. This resource is packed with standards-aligned questions to discuss and hands-on learning activity.

This guide uses a combination of a virtual field trip video paired with suggested question stop points and a mid-viewing activity with historic photos of the Missouri River. This guide will engage students in the exploration of how both human interference and environmental factors have shaped the Missouri River.

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