Missouri River Detectives

Investigate the Mysteries of the Missouri River!

Missouri River Detectives is a video-based resource that is driven by questions from real students to help guide your classroom's exploration of the Missouri River. These FOUR open-and-go lessons are a place-based resource that was piloted and evaluated by teachers from the Columbia Public School District.

  • Video-Based Lessons Ranging from 15 to 30 mins. 
  • Grade Level: 4th Grade and Above
  • Aligned to Next Generation Science Standards
  • Includes Worksheets to Support Students' Learning Experience

Missouri River Detectives deepens students' curiosity by walking them through explanations for phenomena such as erosion or the presence of invasive species in the Missouri River. Each lesson features a different frequently asked question about the Missouri River.

Resource Categories

Are There Sharks in the Missouri River?

Overview

Focus: Adaptations Help Fish Survive in the Missouri River

Topic: Students will investigate whether it’s possible for sharks to live in the Missouri River based on adaptations of fish that currently live in the river. Students will explore and compare fish mouths and discover how different mouth sizes and shapes as well as climate allow for survival in the Missouri River. 

Next Generation Standards

4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

Lesson Plan

The optional Lesson 1 Worksheet that accompanies this lesson can be found here.

Below is a printable PDF version of Missouri River Detectives Lesson 1: Are There Sharks in the Missouri River? lesson plan and transcript for educator use.

Can Some Fish in the Missouri River Really Fly?

Overview

Focus: Invasive Species Damage the Balance of the Missouri River Ecosystem

Topic: Students will investigate the process by which Silver Carp are able to “fly” based on their physiological response to sounds. Students will compare the hearing processes between humans and Silver Carp and how Silver Carp respond when startled.

Next Generation Standards

4-LS1-2. Use a model to describe that animals receive different types of information through their senses, process the information in their brain, and respond to the information in different ways.

Lesson Plan

The optional Lesson 2 Worksheet that accompanies this lesson can be found here.

Below is a printable PDF version of Missouri River Detectives Lesson 2: Can Some Fish in the Missouri River Really Fly? lesson plan and transcript for educator use.

Why Does the Missouri River Look Like Chocolate Milk?

Overview

Focus: Erosion is a Driving Force of Life on the Missouri River

Topic: Students will investigate the processes of Weathering, Erosion and Deposition in relation to rivers. This includes identifying these processes and understanding both how meandering rivers are formed as well as how human-engineered Channelization process can affect these natural processes.

Next Generation Standards

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. 

Lesson Plan

Below is a printable PDF version of Missouri River Detectives Lesson 3: Why Does the Missouri River Look Like Chocolate Milk? lesson plan and transcript for educator use.

How Do Dams in the Missouri River Work?

Overview

Focus: Dams Have Positive and & Negative Impacts on the Health of the Missouri River.

Topic: Students will learn about the major uses and functions of dams by investigating the Missouri River’s Fort Peck Dam. Students will then be able to determine the cause and effect relationship that exists between different natural resources and the environment.

Next Generation Standards

4-ESS3-1. Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.

Lesson Plan

The optional Lesson 4 Worksheet that accompanies this lesson can be found here.

Below is a printable PDF version of Missouri River Detectives Lesson 4: How Do Dams in the Missouri River Work? lesson plan and transcript for educator use.

A Big Muddy Thank You to the Curriculum Team!

Because of you, we were able to develop this educational resource for future teacher and student use and provide them with the opportunity to bring Missouri River education into their classrooms. Thank you.

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