In December, Friends School of Minnesota 5th and 6th grade students visited St. Paul’s Water Treatment Facility.  Students learned all about where St. Paul’s drinking water comes from and how it is treated for safety before reaching our taps.  Every time I take this tour I have the same impression – this is so impressive, interesting, and important that every person in St. Paul should take the tour. As always, the kids seemed to really enjoy the tour and we received very positive feedback from the guides about how inquisitive our students are.

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This field trip is one of the monthly field-trip 5th and 6th students will go on this year. Each of the trips will take us to a different part of the Mississippi River where the kids can learn more about the nature of the river and our interactions with the river.  So far this year – students have paddled down the Mississippi River with Wilderness Inquiry. This provided students an opportunity to see the river (as well as storm sewers, bridges, river traffic, parks, bike trails, …) from a very important perspective.

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Wilderness Inquiry field trip on the Mississippi River

We also visited the Mill City Museum last fall where students learned about the importance of St. Anthony Falls, gained an historical perspective of our relationship with the river, and learned why the Twin Cities are located here.

On our overnight trip to Eagle Bluff we studied the chemistry of the Root River which flows directly into the Mississippi, human use of the river for power, and the wildlife that surrounds the river valley. Read Rebecca’s post about the 5th and 6th Grade Trip to Eagle Bluff.

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Eagle Bluff
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Eagle Bluff

Future field trips this year will include a trip to Red Wing’s wastewater treatment facility where students will have the opportunity to learn about what happens to the wastewater that gets flushed down our sinks, bathtubs, and showers.In addition we plan to visit the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District Offices in Little Canada where students can see rain-gardens, a green roof, permeable pavement and learn all about different things people are doing to try improve water quality in our watershed.  We also have Park Rangers visiting from the Mississippi River National Park and the Mississippi River Fund who will teach about native plants and restoration work along the Mississippi and lead us in making “seed bombs” which will be planted at Mill City in the spring.  We may also visit Minnehaha Falls to learn more about the history of St. Anthony falls, the geology of the area, and the idea of watersheds.

Of course, our river unit isn’t just made up of field trips. In different classes over the course of the year, students will spend time preparing for, reflecting upon, discussing, and processing what we learn on these trips. We will also do additional activities meant to help students better understand our relationship with the river. The Mississippi River is such an important resource to us here in the Twin Cities. Our hope in taking the 5th and 6th grade students on these field trips is that they will develop a greater appreciation for the river, a better understanding of how we interact with the river every day, and an understanding of how their choices may affect the world around them.

– Steve Moe, middle school science teacher

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