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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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Classroom Lessons

Classroom Lessons
(60-90 minutes depending on lesson and age group)

Environmental Storytelling

Grades K - 3

Educators use a Japanese storytelling box to tell students an illustrated story about water. After the story, students draw pictures about what they learned and present their artwork to the class. Choose from four stories: Why Crawdad Has Eyes on Stalks (trees/plant identification, floods), Itsy Bitsy Spider and the Macroinvertebrate Café (watersheds, stormwater pollution, water quality indicators), Medio Pollito (water quality, stewardship), and the Land of Bog(function/value of wetlands).

Riparian Habitats

Grades 1-3

Learn about the five elements of a habitat that all animals need to survive: food, water, shelter, space, and oxygen. Play a Habitat Bingo game to learn about Pacific Northwest animals that live in and near rivers and streams. Explore pelts and skulls of local animals. A great introduction before a watershed investigation field trip.

Water Cycle

Grades 2-5

Follow the path of a water molecule in Project Wet’s Incredible Journey lesson. Students track their journey and create a visual map with pipe cleaners and beads. An optional writing extension is available.

Watershed Awareness

Grades 2-5

A watershed is an area of land that drains into a specific body of water, like a stream, river or slough. Analyze current and historical maps to identify changes in local watersheds. Using an EnviroScape® watershed model, demonstrate stormwater pollution impacts and brainstorm better pollution solution practices.

Riparian Plants

Grades 3 - 9

A riparian zone is the land next to a water body. Learn the value of native plants in enhancing water quality and wildlife habitat, and the negative effects of invasive plants in a riparian zone. Learn basic botany terminology and gain beginning plant identification skills. Recommended for groups doing restoration or school naturescape projects.

Water Chemistry Lab

Grades 4 - 12

Practice using the scientific method while measuring the health of a water body. Students observe, create hypotheses and interpret data as they measure water quality parameters such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity. Recommended as a precursor to a watershed investigation field trip.

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (Water Bugs)

Grades 4 – 12*

Macroinvertebrates (water bugs) are excellent indicators of water quality. Explore life cycles, adaptations, and pollution tolerances of water bugs. Using images, field guides and preserved specimens, learn identification skills and create scientific drawings. * Talk to a Clean Rivers Educator about adapting this lesson for 1st/2nd grade water insect study.

Salmon Survival

Grades 2 - 8

Learn aboutPortland’s threatened coho, steelhead and Chinook salmon. Explore salmon life cycles with preserved specimens and learn salmon-specific vocabulary. An interactive board game packed with science content helps students explore the journey of salmon and threats to their survival.

After the Flush - The Wastewater Story

Grades 4 - 8

After the flush, it doesn’t just go away. Create simulated wastewater and then clean it up following steps taken atPortland’s Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. Gain an appreciation for the city’s sewer infrastructure that helps protect public health, water quality, and the environment. Students learn how they can help at home, like preventing fats, oils and grease from clogging sewer pipes. A follow-up field trip to the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant is recommended for grades 5 and up.

It’s an Overflow!

Grades 5 - 12 Time: 1 hour

Are combined sewers still overflowing into the Willamette River? Discover the sewer history of Portland and experience a combined sewer overflow (CSO) in the classroom. Learn about the City of Portland’s 20-year program to control combined sewer overflows and the CSO project that was the largest capital project in Portland’s history. Learn what the city will do in the future to protect rivers and streams.

Soak It Up- Sustainable Stormwater Solutions

Grades 5 - college

Stormwater runoff from streets, sidewalks and roofs can carry pollution to streams and rivers. Working with aerial maps of a model neighborhood, teams of students calculate area, percentage of pervious and impervious cover, and determine runoff. Students then redesign their neighborhoods with sustainable stormwater facilities such as bioswales, ecoroofs, green streets and stormwater planters. This lesson integrates math and science topics.

My Sediments Exactly: The Portland Harbor Superfund Program

Grades 6 - 12

What is sediment and how does it become contaminated? Identify different sediment types, explore the properties of pollutants in a river system, and analyze cleanup strategies for contaminated sediments. Discuss historic and current land uses along the Willamette River and Portland Harbor and how organizations might approach a long-term cleanup.

Movin’ On Up: Biomagnification and Bioaccumulation

Grades 5 - 12

Explore the hydrophobic properties of some pollutants in a river system. Discover how pollutants can build up in the fatty tissues of organisms, how pollutants move through a food chain/food web, and how we can reduce health risks from these pollutants. Students calculate percentages and averages as they track pollution through a river food chain.