Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The journey has begun!

River Journey: Exploring the Value of the Mississippi

The journey has begun! The River Journey project is under way at River's Edge Academy. Teachers, staff, students, community partners, and the project coordinator  are collaborating on a year-long exploration of water as it flows through River’s Edge and the Twin Cities area. This semester, students are tracing the flow of water to and from the school’s kitchen sink to understand how they and the school are interconnected with the Mississippi River.

Upstream - Midstream - Downstream

After an introduction to the project on August 27th, students spent two days traveling upstream from the school to the water supply intake pumps at Fridley where St. Paul gets its drinking water from the Mississippi River. 

They visited the lakes the water passes through, and toured the water treatment plant where the water is transformed into tap water. The students also studied different ways of seeing and using the river and the values those uses represent considering community, culture, economy, and ecological values.
 September 15th and 16th, students canoed the river with Outward Bound and passed the intake pumps they had visited in August. The students explored water and sewer systems near and within the school, measured water use from hand-washing, toilet flushing, and drinking fountains, and considered how to save water and money by conserving water at school and home. 

September 24th was an all school boat tour to the channel near Pig’s Eye Lake, where sewer water returns to the river after treatment. During the boat ride, students continued their study of values and the river, presenting to teachers and their peers the history of the sometimes conflicting ideas about how the river should be used.   

Coming Next

In October, students will visit the waste water treatment plant and Kaposia Landing to conclude the expedition phase of the project, which sets the groundwork for the next two phases: 1. Creation of a public online map about the river and water use in their school based on student creative work and research, and 2. a spring exploration of rain water at REA and a service project to improve the impact of River’s Edge on the Mississippi. 

River Journey is coordinated by Jonee Brigham, through a fellowship from the Institute on the Environment at the U of MN, and with the support of many community partners. The project is based on a model Brigham developed for art-led environmental education called Earth Systems Journey. See for more about the model.