It was Earth Day yesterday, and my eyes filled with tears as I walked into the Citrus Grove Elementary School classroom. I had been invited to see the graduation of River Kidz for Mrs Jacobson’s second grade class. Once I opened the door, the students were waiting and some took me by the hand sitting me down; they were so exited to show me what they had been learning, and how they were all working to grow up and save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
“This is different.” I thought to myself….”in years past, I would take control of the classroom, but now the kids are taking control of me!”
I watched the classroom dynamics. It was not” top down; ” it worked in both directions: Mrs Jacobsen assisting her students while they in turn assisted her— working together.
While the presentation was prepared, one boy excitedly told me about how the class had built this model of the Kissimmee River to represent what it looked like before it was channelized, “straightened,” by the Army Corp of Engineers between 1960-1971. He also explained “this is one of the things hurting our river…”
He shared that the board painted green was the floodplain’s vegetation, and the plastic tube that weaved and oxbowed, like a snake, was the original river; a cup of water filled with glitter represented nitrogen and phosphorus-what feeds toxic algae blooms in our rivers. This water-glitter concoction would be poured through the tube, (the river) and the extra “nutrient” or fertilizer, would end up in a plastic brown container at the bottom of the tube representing Lake Okeechobee.
We stared with great amazement and observed how because of the oxbows, most of the glitter, was caught in the winding shape, and just a little ended up running through the tube. Students discussed how if the tube were straight, of course all of the green glitter-water would “just shoot down into Lake Okeechobee.”
“This is why the ACOE is fixing some of the river “oxbowey” again…Making the river strait was a bad idea….” 🙂
More complex that this? Of course. But does this help a second grader start to “get it?”
Kissimmee River Story: (http://www.ces.fau.edu/riverwoods/kissimmee.php)
What a visual! How awesome! I was more than impressed…
As the morning went on, we there was a presentation from the “Dolphin Lady,” Nic Mader, and the students showed their artwork, letters to Congressman Murphy, and chart on the white board counting down days left for the Florida Legislature to purchase land south of the lake.
Hoy Cow! —–No, Holy River!
The River Kidz program is in Martin County schools and with the help of great teachers and wonderful students, it’s creating excitement, understanding, empowerment, and responsibility for a better water future. A future for which we can all be proud…
Electronic copy: “River Kidz 2nd Ed. Workbook:” (http://riverscoalition.org/riverkidz/riverkidz-workbooks/)
River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)