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How Guest Speakers Fit into the Curriculum
How Field Trip Docents Fit into the Curriculum

How Guest Speakers Fit into the Curriculum

RiverXchange provides a unique opportunity for water resources agencies to gain entrance into area schools and work with highly motivated teachers. This enables agencies to meet outreach goals while minimizing coordination effort. RiverXchange coordinators, work with guest speakers to create an age appropriate hands-on activity to present in the classroom, assign the guest speaker to one or more classes, and facilitate presentation dates and times. The guest speaker determines the overall level of commitment, and handles presentation details such as the purchase of activity materials, and reserving or acquiring teaching equipment.

The curriculum is organized in three units, begins in mid-September and continues through mid-May. The units and timeframes are:

  • What is a Watershed? (September 15-November 1)
  • Water in Our Society (November 1-February 1)
  • River Ecosystem (February 1-May 15)

Topics within those units include:

water quality                nonpoint source pollution

water conservation      drinking water

wastewater                    water rights

navigation                       agriculture

food webs                       river ecosystems

For New Mexico classes, at least four guest speakers will be coordinated into the classrooms on the topics of watershed/nonpoint source pollution, drinking water and wastewater. The fourth topic will vary depending on availability of guest speakers, but will address either agriculture, water rights, water scarcity or an aspect of the ecosystem (e.g., endangered species, macroinvertebrates). Additional classroom guest speakers are often available, but they must be coordinated by the teacher, if desired. We will provide partner teachers with general agency contact information for guest speaker/field trip ideas in their area, but partner teachers are to coodinate their own classroom guest speakers and field trip.

Interested?  Please contact us!

How Field Trip Docents Fit into the Curriculum

All RiverXchange classes are to go on a field trip to the local river, tributary or important watershed feature. A service learning project is encouraged, if possible. The purpose is to introduce students to the living natural resource they have been studying, and ensure that students make a physical connection with the focal point of their studies.  This means field trip docents and the field trip experience are extremely important to the overall mission of RiverXchange, which is to help students understand a critical local resource so that they will protect it. For many participants, RiverXchange offers the first opportunity for students to see the river or watershed feature up close, and to hear from professionals about the unique characteristics of that ecosystem.

Thanks to the World Water Monitoring Challenge program, all RiverXchange students and teachers are provided with the opportunity to use a water quality test kit on their field trip (at no charge!). 

RiverXchange coordinators identify field trip docents, work with them to create an age appropriate field trip experience lasting three to four hours, facilitate field trip dates and times, and provide major logistical support as necessary. The field trip docent determines the overall level of commitment and handles details such as the purchase of activity materials.

Field trips can occur at any time during the school year based on field trip docent preferences. Depending on location and time of year, a field trip docent could cover topics such as macroinvertebrates, endangered species, pollution, food webs, hydrology, agriculture, irrigation and/or the impact of straightening the river. In New Mexico, classes have taken field trips to:

  • a working farm that grows food for Albuquerque Public Schools, and the adjacent area that functions as an urban stormwater catchment area
  • a working farm with ponds (to see macroinvertebrates) and a city-owned shrub nursery, where students re-potted shrubs to be planted in future years as riparian understory
  • the cottonwood forest area (bosque) adjacent to the Rio Grande, where students took a nature walk, recorded groundwater levels, and made and threw seed balls as part of a riparian revegetation project
  • An agricultural research station, where students became agricultural scientists for the day
  • An urban river restoration project, where students learned about the project and then planted native trees and shrubs
  • An urban open space property, where students took a long nature hike through the bosque to see the Rio Grande

Interested?  Please contact us!

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