Rivers Curriculum Project
major goal of the project, students also produce history essays on river travel, bridges or dams.
In English class, students read writings by conservationists and river writers and write river poems. S.I.U. publishes a yearly collection of student writing and the project's newsletter contains student poetry and drawings.
Several Missouri schools are participating in the Rivers Curriculum Project. To enter the project, teachers must be trained in proper collection techniques and in testing for dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, pH, biochemical oxygen demand, temperature, total phosphate and nitrate content, turbidity and total solids.
Membership in the program is free, but schools must provide equipment, including nets, water test kits and a modem to send and receive information. Through a network, data from all over the country is available to students for project reports.
Usually, even experienced science teachers need training to run the tests and build the program into the curriculum. The Rivers Curriculum Project provides training seminars or sends experienced teachers to orient new members. Gerry Boehm, one of the first Missouri teachers in the program, is now a teacher trainer.
Safety for students is stressed. If water is high, as has been the case in Missouri lately, teachers do the collecting. When that happens, Boehm collects the Missouri River water early in the morning (about 5 a.m.) and brings it to school. Students get experience collecting, however, from nearby smaller tributaries, such as Callaway Creek.
Today, Gerry Boehm's 5th period teams of investigators are readying the results to be sent to S.I.U. This is the first of three days Boehm has put aside for analysis.
The teams work independently, and when they agree on data they enter the results in a chart on the chalkboard. The turbidity team is finished. Their numbers: 2.5/4.5 are filled in. One of them reads the car book, while the others brainstorm over the newspaper essay.
At the chalkboard, the nitrates team is having an argument. Somebody in this class or the last has misplaced a zero, making one result ten times higher than the other.
"Before we turn it in to S.I.U., we'll make sure we have the most accurate, precise data," Boehm said. "See if you can figure out what happened. Look at other collection results and compare." He then moved to another desk, near a group of four students discussing a completely different project.
Earth Day is approaching and this quartet of high schoolers is rehearsing the talk they will give