Learning about the River System through the Humanities and Technology

A Chicago Public Schools educator learns to use our award-winning Natural Solutions Tool at a CRSN workshop.

This year, our Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN) continues to grow our collaboration with teachers and connect students with the Chicago-Calumet River system. To advance the CRSN’s science, technology, engineering (STEM) goals, we are working with teachers to integrate our Natural Solutions Tool and environmental justice content into our award-winning curriculum. Several teachers will be collaborating on a lesson that will help other teachers use the Tool in their classrooms with students. To integrate the humanities, we are collaborating this school year with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to bring together music, art and science for teachers and students. Teachers will create a music and arts integrated unit that incorporates the ideas of water preservation and ecology. Students will then perform their own original music compositions at the end of the school year in May 2024.

During the past school year, the CRSN’s student impact totaled 20,592 via direct programming, including field trips to the river with Friends’ staff and through the hundreds of teachers who have been trained to use our river curricula, which is designed to meet state learning standards.

“I have great hope for the future of our river system and the watershed. The upcoming generation of students always amaze me with their capacity to see the Chicago-Calumet River system with an open mind, imagining possibilities for wildlife habitat, improved water quality, and a cleaner river without litter and pollution,” said Mark Hauser, Friends’ education manager.

Hundreds of high school and middle school environmentalists from dozens of schools in the city and suburbs participated in the 26th annual Student Congress, a student conference organized by Friends’ CRSN staff. The Congress empowers students to teach each other about river-related issues. The next student congress event is planned for February 2024. Since its founding in 1996, the CRSN has engaged more than 475,000 students and teachers in science, language, and history activities at river locations north, south, and west.