During the Spring semester of 2021, we partnered with Columbia Public Schools (CPS) to bring two guest presentations to sixty registered fourth and fifth grade classes. We were able to successfully take on this challenge with the help of guest presenters Kory Kaufman, Melanie Knocke, and Anna Miller who graciously offered their time and teaching expertise to about half of these registered classes.
While we were unable to physically bring students to the Missouri River this year, we did our best to take the excitement and mystery of its muddy waters to their classrooms. For Lesson One, students investigated whether or not there are sharks in the Missouri River and learned about fish adaptations. This question is one that frequently is asked by elementary school students, so we decided to hook them by discussing fake river shark stories and the value of reliable sources. During Lesson Two the following week, students moved onto a different type of fish. They explored invasive species in the form of Silver Carp and designed inventions to help stop their spread by exploiting the Silver Carp’s jumping response to sounds. Many of the students came up with inventions that are nearly identical to those being tested by scientists today. After the presentations, students were free to ask questions about the lessons or the Missouri River.
Theme: Adaptations Help Fish Survive in the Missouri River
Topic: Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, and Structural Adaptations
Next Generation Science Standard: 4-LS1-1. Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
Theme: Invasive Species Damage the Balance of the Missouri River Ecosystem
Topic: Models, Sense Receptors and Asian Carp
Next Generation Science Standard: 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.
We are providing teachers of these classes access to two more pre-recorded lessons, which will be available soon along with recorded versions of Lesson One and Lesson Two on the Missouri River Relief website under curriculum.
Virtual Missouri River Days was a blast, but nothing can replace the hands-on experience of throwing on a lifejacket and helping students aboard a boat. We hope that we will be able to once again provide that experience to CPS elementary students. In the meantime, we are excited to continue adapting and creating new lessons and programs to keep their interests piqued.