Classroom Guest Speakers

Guest speakers are fabulous resource people who can visit your classroom to help you carry out a specific topic of the RiverXchange curriculum, so that students are able to understand and answer Big Water Questions like How can surface water become polluted? or Where does your commnity’s drinking water come from? Professionals from local water resources agencies can give students a wealth of information and perspective that teachers might not have – they are the experts because they are involved with these issues every day!

For teachers, we will coordinate four guest speakers into the classroom plus one field trip (including bus transportation) to the local river, tributary or riparian area.  Additional classroom guest speakers are often available, but they must be coordinated by the teacher, if desired.

Topics covered by guest speakers include:

  • Wastewater
  • Drinking Water
  • Agriculture
  • Stormwater

Field Trip

In addition to classroom guest speakers, another important component of RiverXchange is a class 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 – many students have never actually seen the river up close!

Our curriculum also includes pre- and post-field trip activities.  Depending on location and time of year, a field trip docent or the teacher 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

It is extremely important for students to go outside to discover the connection between where they live a the river, and to learn that everything is connected in a watershed.  Students get to see and learn for themselves about other water users in our sociey (e.g., plants, animals, farmers), how all living things depend on each other, or what makes their water polluted.  Rivers do not become polluted or depleted overnight, and the culprit is rarely a single “evil corporation”!  Rather, such challenges are created — and can be solved — by all of us.  Through RiverXchange, students learn that the simple action of picking up their dog’s waste has a direct impact on reducing fecal coliforms — one of the biggest source of bacterial pollution in many U.S. rivers.

Action Project

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