Several local elementary schools have used the river and restoration project to teach students about the ecological importance of rivers and the organisms that rely on them.
Green Bus Tours: The Coonamessett River Trust (CRT) partners with the Falmouth Schools through the Green Bus Tour, a springtime field trip for all 4th grade students. The Bus Tour’s purpose is to showcase Falmouth Environmental projects. It is organized by Falmouth’s STEM Boosters, www.falmouthSTEMboosters.org.
The students learn what is needed for the health of a particular organism: the river herring – both alewives and bluebacks. A CRT member visits the 4th grade classrooms to prepare the students for a field trip to our partially restored river. They illustrate the need for river restoration by highlighting the difficulties that herring face in traveling through the river from ocean to spawning pond and back. Through imagery, the students are guided through the perils herring face on the unrestored river. Then the students brainstorm ways of reducing or eliminating those perils and roadblocks. Their solutions are matched with what has already been done and what is planned for the river restoration.
During the Green Bus field trip the students are able to walk along the river seeing first-hand the work and success of restoration. They can see some of the solutions they discussed in the classroom become reality. They also experience the diversity of wildlife in a restored river system. A field guide and our docents help them identify some of the plants and animals that they spot.
During the field trip students learn how their adopted herring are tracked using a model to illustrate electronic tagging (see herring adoptions). They also learn that habitats can be restored, helping herring and other riverine animals and plants.
Teaticket School: A separate program has been going on at Teaticket Elementary School where second graders adopt fish and focus on the needs of the herring at the river.
Coonamessett River Restoration videos for the classroom
The CRT developed these videos for teachers to show to classrooms to field trips to the river. Part 1 introduces the problems the river had before restoration and why these are a problem for fish and other animals. Part 2 explores the solutions to these problems. Part 3 is an overview.
Part 1: The Problem
Part 2: The Solutions
Part 3: the self-test
Kiosk information: Information about the restoration is illustrated by posters, maps, and photos about where we were, where we are, and where we are going in our restoration process.
Coonamessett Greenway Heritage Trail: Interpretive panels along the pathway tell the natural and human history of the Coonamessett River valley.
Restoration Brochure: Want to learn more about the restoration of the Coonamessett and answers to such questions as the purpose of the vertical posts along the river? The CRT developed a self-guided walking tour brochure for visitors to learn historical, ecological, and restoration facts about the project. The free brochures are available at the kiosk at Dexter’s Crossing or can be downloaded here.
CRT Field Guide: The CRT developed these guides in conjunction with the Woods Hole Sea Grant program for our popular school field trips. We found that everyone enjoys using these animal and plant guides so they are now also available at the Dexter's Crossing kiosk or here.
River Activities to do at home
What is a watershed?
In most discussions of rivers and streams, the term “watershed” is used. What actually is a watershed and how is it formed? Find out using this simple activity. You’ll need: crumpled paper, a pan, water-based markers, water, and a spray bottle to make a watershed. Here is the link. http://fergusonfoundation.org/teacher_resources/crumpled_paper.pdf. There’s some educational jargon in this activity, but scroll down. It’s pretty fun to do. On a nice day, do it outside.
Read about Rivers.
One of my favorites about stream restoration is Come Back, Salmon by Molly Cone.
Reading Suggestions for kids
Save Our Stream! by Colin Polsky and Jane Tucker
Chattanooga Sludge by Molly Bang
Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bil Harley
Look back at this site for further adventures, activities and good reading about rivers and streams. Please also send us your suggestions!
Banner made by Teaticket School 2nd grade after a visit to the river to learn about herring.