Creating a New Generation of Stream Ecologists
Our RiverRATS Education Program provides free environmental education activities to students throughout the French Broad River watershed. Activities are focused on place based, hands on, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) focused education that’s aligned with the NC Essential Science Standards.
- Location: Lessons can be hosted in the classroom, at a stream site, or virtually.
- Age Group: Grades K-12, with a specific focus on grades 3rd-8th.
- Time Frame: Lessons can range between 45-90 minutes.
- Size Limits: 30 students per lesson, 4 lessons per day, for a max of 120 students/day.
- Service Area: We work with public, charter, and private schools in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania counties in North Carolina.
- Find more information in our FAQ below.
This is a needs based program and we will prioritize schools that lack access to natural spaces, as well as those with a high percentage of low-income families and students of color. Our capacity is limited so please keep this in mind when requesting lessons.
RiverRATS stands for “River Recreation and Appreciation Through Science“. Our lessons and activities give students a chance to act as stream ecologists and river stewards. By participating in our program, your students will gain a deeper connection and understanding of our local streams and rivers. Request a lesson today and help your students become the next generation of river stewards!
Lesson & Activity Offerings
Get your students in the water to search for these incredible little bugs. Through this activity your students will learn about specific adaptations macroinvertebrates use to survive and how they contribute to stream health. Students will search for critters using specialized nets, and identify species using a dichotomous key. Once they’ve collected a good sample we’ll discuss their findings, and use them to determine the health of the stream.
Erosion & Flooding – Stream Table Simulation
Learn about how rivers form, erode, and change over time with our interactive stream table model. Your students will get to watch as a river is created right before their eyes. They’ll then get to build a small community and learn some best practices for building and living along a waterway.
Water Chemistry Testing
Let your students be chemists for the day as they use various methods to test the health of a local waterway. Our educators will guide them through the process of finding 6 of the most important water quality standards. We’ll then discuss the surrounding area, and form hypotheses about what might be impacting the waters chemistry.
Downstream – Stormwater Impacts
Help your students understand how water moves through our urban environment. Starting with a quick game, your students will learn about the path of stormwater and the various human impacts on it. Afterwards, we’ll use our interactive stormwater model to brainstorm and illustrate some solutions that can help us manage stormwater.
Water Cycle – The Incredible Journey
Explore the water cycle and help your students understand how water moves through the hydrosphere. Kids will take on the role of a water molecule as it moves through the water cycle. Each students journey will be different and along the way they’ll create a unique bracelet to reflect this. Afterwards we’ll discuss the differences between each stage and the various ways that water moves between them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far in advance should I request a lesson?
We ask that you request lessons at least two week before your preferred dates. Since these lessons are free, our schedule does fill up fast, so if you can give longer than two weeks that’s even better.
How many students can participate in a lesson?
Each of our lessons can accommodate up to 30 students at a time. For the sake of our staff we prefer to limit lessons to 4 per day, meaning we can teach up to 120 students over the course of a day.
Where is the stream?
We can meet your class at a lot of different local waterways. Our staff will work with you to find the most convenient, safe, and appropriate locations for your group.
What do students need to bring?
Students joining us at the stream should come prepared with clothes and shoes that can get wet and/or dirty, sunscreen, and water. If your students do not have access to good water shoes or clothes we do have Crocs that we can bring on request.
If we’re coming into the school then all your students will need is a curiosity for environmental science.
Are students required to get in the water?
No one is required to get in the water if they are uncomfortable. We want everyone to have a positive experience, whether that’s on the bank or in the stream.
What happens in the event of inclement weather?
Depending on the weather we may have to cancel or reschedule your lesson at the stream. If it’s just a light sprinkle, we will continue as planned; however, if there’s concerns about flooding, low temperatures, thunder or lightning we will contact you to discuss alternative options.
All lessons in the classroom will follow typical school delays and closures.
How can I help Support this Program?
Making a donation is a great place to start! If you can’t make a financial contribution then you can help spread awareness of our program to your parents and fellow teachers.