Thanks to funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Richmond City Public School (RPS) students were offered hands-on scientific experiences in their own community. Throughout the month of October, students visited Reedy Creek, Pony Pasture, and Great Shiplock Park. Year two proved to be another outstanding year as students became more intrigued with our urban environment, experiencing firsthand the beauty of being outdoors. Most of the students were unaware of the parks within city limits, and didn’t know they were free to visit.

Year two of the NOAA BWET grant allowed students Richmond City Public Schools to enjoy a day of science and river exploration in the James River Park System. Following last year’s success, students from all eight schools participated in the Investigating Urban Parks Field Experience. The sixth graders engaged in scientific experiments which encompassed SOL criteria and watershed education. Studying abiotic and biotic water quality testing, students were able to discover the inter-connectivity of everyday choices with the health of the river. Activities included catching macroinvertebrates to determine their ability to tolerate pollution and dissolved oxygen and nitrate testing. Additionally, students learned about the characteristics of wetlands, the ecosystems in which they support, and their ability to filtrate water and prevent floods.

The program led by James River Association and James River Park System educators allowed students to experience science and community outside the walls of the classroom. The NOAA BWET program is invaluable and seems to get better with age, we look forward to next October!