The Two Rivers Community School’s eighth grade recently spent three days in Charleston, South Carolina exploring estuaries, historical landmarks, salt marshes, and the rich history of the area. This experience was the capstone to a semester long study of hydrosphere.
“Our focus was on the mountain springs to the ocean,” said eighth grade science grade teacher Clint Byers. “We started the semester with a canoe trip down the New River studying water quality, bio-indicators and freshwater habitat. The students enjoyed the hands-on components bringing to life the lessons back in the classroom.”
Throughout the semester students unpacked the lessons they gathered from the New River canoe expedition. They studied the effects of sedimentation on rivers, the formation of sedimentary rocks, the concept of geological time, and even created imprints of different fossils they discovered.
“We emphasized lessons within the New River Basin making our student’s experiences relevant,” said Byers. “While the science lessons are obvious, the eighth grade social studies teacher saw an opportunity to emphasize water’s impact on society, industry and culture.”
“Using the rivers as historical maps of societal development, students were able to understand the geographic distribution of settlements and industry throughout the last century,” said eighth grade social studies teacher Kelly Lynn.
The eighth grade teachers’ mantra has been “all rivers lead to the ocean,” creating great discourse for students to determine the impacts of our industries and cultural behaviors.
The trip to Charleston solidified the meaning of “all rivers lead to the ocean.” It was a hands-on experience bringing to life many of the lessons they learned throughout the semester. The trip was not limited to estuaries and salt marshes, as students spent time discovering Charleston’s rich military history along its shores at Fort Moultrie and handled sting rays at the Charleston Aquarium.
“My favorite part of the trip was looking at Phytoplankton under the microscope after learning how important they are to the aquatic food chain,” said eighth-grade Samara Carlough.
Byers likes hearing this because it is a great segue to next semester’s focus on ecology and food systems.
The trip to Charleston, the New River canoe trip and the entire semester’s focus on hydrosphere was part of the N.C. Flow Expedition that the eighth grade teachers developed. It is intentionally designed to be hands-on, project-based and relevant for students. The teachers do a wonderful job of incorporating the different learning styles to ensure every student feels comfortable and energized to learn.