Summer Program kicks off on the Mackenzie and Rio Grande Rivers

2012-07-04 20.25.09

PAST&E's summer programming got off to a great start with our "Greatest Rivers of the World" educational tour. We started off in North America learning about the Mackenzie River in Canada, followed by the Rio Grande (called the Rio Bravo in Mexico) which runs through 3 U.S. and 4 Mexican states.
Each day of learning is a divergence from what many students experience at school. We emphasize student led learning, where a student or group of students are presented with a challenge and can then experiment and find a solution on their own. We hope to enable each student to love investigating and coming up with creative solutions to simple and difficult problems alike!

Core Themes

Plant and Animal Adaptations: What makes an animal suited to live in a particular habitat?
Did you know that Beluga whales swim up the Mackenzie river? This is a behavioral adaptation where they travel up to the river mouth to shed molted skin with the aid of the river rocks. Other animals of the Mackenzie river are Moose (which are excellent swimmers and can dive up to 17 feet underwater to eat water plants), grizzly bears and salmon. Grizzly bears usually live alone, but they congregate for the annual salmon run. Salmon spend part of their lives in rivers (fresh water) and part of their lives in the ocean (salt water).

Cultures: What makes a certain area unique? How do people live differently, depending upon their surroundings?
In looking at the Mackenzie River, we learned about the indigenous peoples, the Inuit, who have made these Arctic areas their home for thousands of years. Did you know that igloos are not for living in year round? These ice houses are only used on hunting trips as temporary housing. We made our own temporary igloos using sugar cubes, marshmallows and glue!
Physical ScienceWe also learned about friction and gravity by having our own dogsled races! Our students teamed up to create their own dog sleds, more commonly used for transportation through snow or across frozen rivers. They used tongue depressors, tape, rocks crayons and of course a dog. We then raced the sleds down an inclined track to see which team had the design that created the least amount of friction!

World Geography
Following where the rivers take us, we're learning about the countries and different land areas that each river passes through. Are there other places with shared borders like along the Rio Grande? In learning about the Rio Grande, we made pinatas full of information to remind us that the United States and Mexico share the river and the water in it- water is something that every one needs and our shared culture is a great thing to highlight!

Summer Long Projects

The Ecosystem Project Each team has recycled plastic bottles to create a self-sustaining replica of a generalized river ecosystem- the water in the bottom level evaporates, then condenses at the top of the bottle and "rains" down onto the dirt to make the grass grow in the second stacked bottle. The sun and water sustain the water plants! Soon we'll be adding snails as the animal to our ecosystem, we hope it remains balanced!

PAST&E Geography Bee Challenge! How many countries can you name on each of the continents? Do you know any of the capital cities? Our students will be learning as many as possible this summer, increasing our knowledge of and familiarity with the world outside of Portland, OR!