Columbia fourth graders explore Missouri River

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COLUMBIA - Missouri’s River Relief began hosting Missouri River Days Monday.

Missouri River Days is a three-day event that gets 4th graders from the Columbia Public Schools out of their classroom and onto the Missouri River to learn more about science and the river.

“Fourth grade works really well because so many science standards fit really well into the Missouri River and the things that we can teach about it,” said Missouri River Relief Education Coordinator Kristen Schulte.

Nineteen Columbia elementary schools will participate in the program over the next year. One hundred twenty five children attend the program in the morning and another 125 children go in the afternoon.

The program has four different learning stations for the children to attend.

The first station is called the “on the river experience” and allows the students to explore the Missouri River on a short boat trip up the river. The boat driver provides the children with safety tips and facts about the river.

Missouri River Relief provided the 24-foot aluminum plate boats that hold about 10-12 people each.

Schulte said the students make a lot of observations out on the river. “A lot of times you can go out on the Missouri River and it just looks like a really blurry green and brown mess because there’s so much to see and it can sometimes be overwhelming,” said Schulte. “When we take the time to stop and pause, they make observations about what they notice and what they wonder about.”

The second station allows the students to learn about Lewis and Clark and what their exploration of the River looked like. The students use water colors to paint a picture of how Lewis and Clark documented their experience.

The third station is a guided hike through the Missouri River flood bottom while the students learn about the trees surrounding the water.  

A fisheries biologist is at the fourth station to teach the students about the fish that live in the River.     

“Our exact goal isn’t that they know the Missouri River is 2,341 miles long but that they feel that they have a personal connection to the Missouri River so when it comes across in different things for them that they can feel that connection,” said Schulte. 

“This is the best day of school ever,” said one student.  

Missouri River Days is a biannual event held at Columbia’s Eagle Bluffs conservation area. It’s designed to give students a hands-on experience with the river, outside of the classroom

The next group of students will attend the program on Wednesday and Friday. Missouri River Relief will hold another Missouri River Days event in the spring.