Spotlight on School Visits

What do JENGA, musical chairs, carpet squares, competition, and creativity all have in common? These are all key ingredients that come together to help educate and inspire the next generation on water, soil, and natural resources, thanks to the Water Rocks! youth outreach program.

Earlier this week, the Water Rocks! team spent two days teaching 5th graders in the Waukee School District all about biodiversity. We visited 5th grade classrooms at Brookview Elementary pyramid_Consumers_biodiversity_module (2)and Woodland Hills Elementary, spending 50 minutes in each individual classroom with our super energetic, super fun “Trees, Bees, and Biodiversity” program!

Over the years, we’ve found that school visits are most effective when we work with one individual class at a time – this offers the greatest opportunity for hands-on, interactive activities, as well as questions and dialogue. And this “Trees, Bees, and Biodiversity” program is chock full of hands-on, interactive games and activities!

Here are a few snapshots to highlight these school visits:

WordItOut-word-cloud-1164025We’re all about building vocabulary in each of our classroom lessons!


Biodiversity JENGA helps students see the interwoven connections between different living creatures…  the colored blocks correspond to the different trophic levels shown in the pyramid above. Water Rocks! team members draw a “situation” from the “situation jar,” and that lets the students know which block(s) must be removed each turn. Two teams are competing head-to-head to keep their towers standing as long as possible. As one 5th grader this week put it, “This is really intense!”


Woodland Hills (Waukee) 5th graders join in a rousing game of Musical Oxbows!  It’s like Musical Chairs, but in this version of the game, students become Topeka Shiners (native fish to Iowa) and swim around an oxbow while the music is playing. Ann encourages them to “summon their inner fish” while Liz runs the boombox.


Once the music stops, find a spot in the oxbow, or you’re out!  The game gets a bit tougher as “situations” are drawn from the “situation jar” and the oxbow shrinks… it’s survival of the fittest!

Check out the 2015 Schedule of Events to see where we’re headed next. While our fall schedule is closed, we are currently accepting requests for second semester school visits, over the months of February – May. Learn more about our offerings on the Classroom Visits webpage, and then hop on over to Request a Visit!

Ann Staudt

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