Does your classroom love to explore? Solve mysteries? Have your students join Mississippi National River & Recreation Area Park Rangers and Wilderness Inquiry Outdoor Leaders on this free virtual adventure along the Mississippi River! During each session, explorers will investigate different topics and notable places along the Mississippi. With National Park Service developed curriculum and facilitation, students will leave this adventure with a deeper understanding of the Mighty Mississippi in the Twin Cities. Although this is a Zoom-based experience, students will have a chance to be active, solve mysteries about the river and surrounding areas, and challenge themselves to make connections to the Mississippi River, even from a distance.
The program is for youth in grades 5-8. Youth will be given a free Exploration Kit that includes all materials needed to participate in activities. Youth will need an internet connection and a device that connects to the internet. We suggest registering for all four days of this program for the most impactful experience, but it is not required to register for each day in order to participate. The program will be facilitated from 9:00 – 10:30am or 1:00 – 2:30pm covering history and ecology of the Mississippi River.
Here’s how to sign up:
Step 1: Choose your experience from the four different options listed below.
River of Life
Day 1, Ecology at Crosby Farm Regional Park: At Crosby Farm Regional Park, explorers will learn about floodplain forest ecosystems, species adaptation, and how to be a local waterway steward.
Day 2, Ecology at Coldwater Spring: At Coldwater Spring, explorers will learn about prairie ecosystems in Minnesota, and the importance of prairie restoration and conservation.
River of History
Day 1, History at Fort Snelling State Park: At Fort Snelling State Park, explorers will learn about the North American fur trade, and the cultural significance of the Bdote.
Day 2, History at Saint Anthony Falls: At Saint Anthony Falls, explorers will learn about Minnesota geology, waterfall erosion, and the important connections between the Mississippi River and the development of the Twin Cities.
River of Life & History
Day 1, Ecology at Crosby Farm Regional Park
Day 2, Ecology at Coldwater Spring
Day 3, History at Fort Snelling State Park
Day 4, History at Saint Anthony Falls
Choose Your Own Adventure!
Pick and choose what days sound most interesting to you!
Step 2: Determine the dates that best fit your group’s schedule.
This program runs from 9:00 – 10:30am or 1:00 – 2:30pm Monday through Thursday most weeks. Each month, the first and third weeks will be morning sessions and the second and fourth will be afternoon sessions.
Step 3: Register!
You will register for your entire classroom or group at one time for each date you’re interested in. For example, a science class is interested in River of Life. The teacher, or class leader, then chooses two dates from the list below, registers for each date using their contact information on behalf of the class, and then moves forward as the group’s main contact.
Step 4: Confirm details with Wilderness Inquiry.
Wilderness Inquiry’s Youth Programs team will follow up with you to confirm final details like class roster, Exploration Kit pick-up/drop-off, Zoom logistics, and more. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
MATERIALS NEEDED: Youth need internet service and a device that connects to the internet in order to participate.
WHAT IS PROVIDED: Free Exploration Kits will be provided to all participants. Kits will include materials needed to participate in activities. Kit delivery/pick-up/drop-off will be coordinated with you directly.
REGISTRATION: You will register your entire classroom or group at one time, please choose the dates that best fit your schedule. We will then contact you to learn more about your group and content areas if applicable.
COST: Thanks to financial support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Mississippi River Explorers is free for Minnesota youth. If your student or group is from outside of Minnesota, the cost is $15 for a 2-day experience, and $20 for a 4-day experience.
GROUP SIZE: Your classroom/group will be in both large and small group settings. A large group size can be up to 90 youth, or 4 different classrooms/groups, at one time.
RECOMMENDED GRADE LEVEL: Youth in grades 5-8 are best suited for the activities of this program.
ACADEMIC STANDARDS: Mississippi River Explorers curriculum is aligned with science and social studies academic standards for grades 5-8. Click here to view aligned science standards. Click here to view aligned social studies standards.
DAILY SCHEDULE: Each day will begin with a large group introduction, team-building game, and check-in. The majority of our time will be spent in smaller virtual “rooms” investigating the Mississippi River with interactive activities led by National Park Rangers and Wilderness Inquiry Outdoor Leaders. We will finish our day with a large group discussion and farewell.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are teacher/group leader expectations?
Youth will be able to participate and complete activities independently. All activities during this program will be facilitated by a National Park Ranger or Wilderness Inquiry Outdoor Leader. Teachers or group organizers may need to assist Wilderness Inquiry in distributing activity kits to youth, as well as help with attendance at the beginning of each experience.
How do I make a Zoom account?
Zoom is an online video platform that creates a virtual space for multiple users to gather with video and audio capabilities. Use this Quick Start User Guide to create an account and learn more. It is preferred each participant has a Zoom account, but not necessary. Please let us know if you are unable to create an account.
Do participants need a Zoom account?
Having a Zoom account is preferred, but not necessary. If you are unable to create a Zoom account, please let us know during registration.
What organizations are involved?
The Mississippi River Explorers is a virtual educational experience facilitated by Wilderness Inquiry, Mississippi National River Recreation Area, and Mississippi Park Connection. This opportunity is made possible by support from the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and Nature Valley.
Are the activities and curriculum aligned to academic standards?
Yes! The curriculum of Mississippi River Youth Explorers is aligned to science and history academic standards for grades 5-8. Scroll back up to the above section under What to Expect to view specific standards.