River Explorer Program
River Explorer is an innovative, inquiry based, outdoor learning-lab that provides experiential, activity-based environmental focused STEM education about the Ohio River and its watershed, in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. More than 30,000 students have participated in River Explorer since the program began in 2005.
River Explorer is offered in Greater Cincinnati and Greater Columbus, OH.
Using nets, live specimens, and field grade equipment, students are junior scientists for the day and are introduced to a new and exciting learning experience. This hands-on education program is designed to help children learn about the ecology and importance of the Ohio River, its tributaries, and watershed. Classes are taught in and along the rivers, streams, and creeks in the watershed; in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Every year thousands of students are River Explorers!
Learning station activities connect the concept of watersheds to school STEM core content, teach students about Ohio River watershed ecology, and involve students in water quality and ecology projects to foster development of environmental stewardship ethics. During the activities students learn about the differences, structures, and interactions between and in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and how they function in a watershed. The experience is guaranteed to make students look at the world in a new light!
To help students more fully understand the relationships between Chemistry, Macroinvertebrate, and Fish samplings and their related findings, we use Habitat Assessment tools for student classes grades 6-12.
River Explorer learning stations are currently designed for 4th thru 12th grade students. Note: only our 4th thru 9th grade program meets state curriculum requirements for Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Activities incorporate discussions of the relationship between food web, habitat, and chemistry concepts.
Classes rotate through three learning stations where they engage in these different activities. Below you will find more information about each station.
Stations One and Two - All Grades
Seining and Fish Study - Working in small teams, students will get an opportunity to help pull the seine net out of the river and retrieve whatever they've caught in the net. Depending upon height of student and site location, a student may get wet up to their knees or waist. Fish adaptations are examined first hand using aquariums stocked with "the catch of the day" collected by the children during the seining activity.
Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Study - Gathering macroinvertebrates opens up whole new topics for exploration
Third station - Grade Specific Learning Activity
The following station we offer to customize your program and better fit your individual curriculum needs.
River Chemistry (grades 6-12): We found some dead fish and we need a top notch investigative team to figure out why! Our prime suspect is the water. Students will test samples of river water for oxygen, temperature, and more. Students learn why these parameters are so important to river health and fish longevity and vitality.
Water Use and Water Cycle (grades 4-5): Through interactive demonstrations and group activities (i.e. bucket brigade), students learn what is the Ohio River hydrologic cycle and learn about what impact human activities have on the health of the river.
- (Loveland, OH) Nesbit Park - Little Miami River
- (Loveland, OH) Lake Isabella Park - Little Miami River
- (Batavia, OH) Sycamore Park - Little Miami River
- (Sharonville, OH) Sharon Woods Park - Sharon Creek
- (Guilford, IN) Guilford Bridge Park -Tanners Creek .
- (Covington, KY) Pioneer Park - Banklick Creek
- (Columbus, OH) Highbanks Park - Olentangy River
- (Columbus, OH) Friendship Park (Gahanna) - Big Walnut Creek
(We are constantly considering new locations that are proximate to schools that register for a field trip. If you would like a field trip and can suggest a new location for consideration please let us know!)
Sign up for a Trip:
To schedule a field trip, please complete the on-line application. Instructions for completing the application, including group sizes, minimum age, and pricing information, are available on this website. Submit Application on-line here. Trip dates are limited and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Spring registration ends March 1. Fall registration ends August 24. Don't delay...reserve your date today!
At the end of their experience or as a follow-up event, students are encouraged to participate in a service project such as placement of erosion and storm water runoff controls, invasive species and trash removal, and native habitat plantings. These activities naturally flow from the curriculum studies, as the students will employ knowledge and skills learned on their field trip. Contact us to discuss options for post-trip stewardship activities for your class.