Saturday, October 29, 2011

Low Dam Removal and Waterpark Plans!

Yesterday, the Baby Stews took the mini-course to our friends at the Miami Conservancy District and Five Rivers MetroParks to hear about the exciting removal of the Monument low dam a little ways past RiverScape on the Great Miami. Removing the low dam will help the river return to its natural flow rather than a buildup of water behind the dam. It will also allow for a better migration of fish, less chance for poor water quality from sediment buildup behind the dam, and most importantly, resolve the safety hazard that low dams can present. For those of you who are unfamiliar with low dams, they are usually concrete dams with varying height that water runs over that blends in with the river in front of the low dam, so they are not always easy to see if you are paddling down the river.

The plan is to remove the Monument low dam and replace it with a Whitewater Park, with options for a smoother channel or a whitewater passage. These channels along the Great Miami River are part of the Greater Downtown Dayton Plan, which if you haven't checked it out yet, you should! The ultimate goal of these new river passages is to create a more aesthetic and recreational use of the river downtown to attract people to the city while still keeping flood protection in mind.

The whole plan is very exciting, but I think that the Whitewater Parks are a great continuation of the conservation that Five Rivers MetroParks and MCD have always kept as a goal for the city of Dayton and Montgomery County.

Here's more on the Plans for the Whitewater Park specifically:
(P.S. The renderings of potential projects are really cool, especially this!

Enjoy this beautiful fall weather!

River love,
Liz (2014 Cohort)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

RiverMobile Update 10/19

Last Wednesday, the student design team met with Exhibit Concepts for the first design/brainstorming session. The meeting was mostly focused on the teaching techniques that will be implemented in the trailer. From these discussions, the trailer can be configured to best fit the needs of the Stewards leading the curriculum. The overall feeling of the exhibit was a main focus of the meeting. We want the RiverMobile to be something exciting and very different. The RiverMobile should almost be like an adventure through Dayton’s unique river history and exciting potential. This will hopefully make teachers want to take their classes to see and learn from the River Stewards at the RiverMobile. This will further the theme of “our rivers make us special.”

While this meeting was mostly focused on the overall theme of the exhibit, some discussion was given to specific aspects of the RiverMobile. It will be very important that the students experiencing the RiverMobile will feel like they are a part of the river system. We talked about having them walk over part of the aquifer or along the river bank looking at animals that might be seen along the river. Also an interactive game was discussed that the students would play while going through the exhibit. It would provide fun for the students, as well as, a great tool for the Stewards to determine how much the students are learning.

The student design team continues to meet outside of the meetings with Exhibit Concepts to determine curriculum and discuss questions brought up in the previous design meetings. The next meeting with ECI will occur on October 28.

River Leadership Curriculum Update

Week 5

For Week 5 of the RLC, the students traveled to Calvary Cemetery with Brother Don Geiger of UD's Biology Department and Susan Byrnes, the director of ArtStreet. Brother Don discussed land use and its impacts with the students. Standing on top of a hanging prairie, the class was able to see various examples of land use including a land fill, a highway, and waste management. Brother Don brought several maps to show how land use has changed throughout the years. Susan asked the students to exercise their "third eye" to process what they were seeing. Susan asked the students to draw what they were seeing, smelling, and interpreting on the hanging prairie. She even asked them to draw what they might not be able to see with their naked eye, like systems at work (i.e. radio signals). The students really responded to both presentations. This class was changed slightly from last year. Originally we also traveled to Hills and Dales MetroPark and did a different artisitic exercise. Staying in one location allowed for both presenters to have more time and flexibility with what they wanted to talk about.

Week 6

This class also took the students out of the classroom. This time we traveled to Miami Conservancy District to talk about the history of river cities and current examples of how cities are using their rivers to revitalize. Dr. Janet Bednarek of UD's History Department explained how rivers have been integral in cities' history. Using Pittsburgh as a case study, Janet explained how cities were dependent on their rivers for transportation and industry. A next phase in river city history was reclaiming rivers after industry polluted many of them. Finally, in more recent history, cities have begun to turn back to their rivers to draw people to live in their midst. Dayton is one of these cities. Carrie Scarff, Deputy Director of Five Rivers MetroParks, has been integral in the conversations about removing a low dam in downtown Dayton. The low dam is very dangerous. People hope by removing it, recreation on the river and activity around the river will increase. The plan would remove the low dam but also put in a kind of water park that would make water sports and the river bank more attractive. This class was beneficial to the students' learning after they kayaked one of the rivers that flows downtown. The students paddled down the Mad River a few weeks prior to this presentation. They ended the trip at RiverScape, close to where the low dam would be removed.

The pictures below are from the students' visit to Calvary Cemetery with Brother Don Geiger and Susan Byrnes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RiverMobile Update

Since the last post, the student design team came up with the student learning outcomes as well the possible station topics in the trailer. In addition, the team has created on over-arching theme that will be incorporated into all aspects of the exhibit. “Our rivers make us special” will be the theme that guides all future design of the RiverMobile. The summer design team also did a number of experiential trips to meet with exhibit designers at museums around the region. The exhibit designers were extremely helpful by introducing the design team to some of the challenges associated with the use of water. They also provided ideas for testing some of the curricular activities for the RiverMobile.

From these discussions, the possible stations were created. The seven possible stations are: Dayton’s River History, Map Reading Skills, Life In and Around the River, Great Miami Watershed, Great Miami Buried Aquifer, Municipal Water, the Future of Dayton. The stations could be featured inside the trailer or incorporated into the exterior structure of the RiverMobile. Detailed information about all of the exhibits and possible features were compiled into a report that will be used in designing the RiverMobile. On September 16th, the summer design team met with Exhibit Concepts in Vandalia, Ohio to discuss a possible partnership while working on the RiverMobile.

After the meeting with Exhibit Concepts, a team was formed to work on the project through the school year. This team will be responsible for meeting with Exhibit Concepts every few weeks to finalize the design of the trailer. The team is also in charge of leading the curriculum development. The curriculum will be designed to focus on grades sixth through eighth but will be made relevant to people of all ages. The design team will be ready to present their renderings of the project sometime in February and construction will begin shortly afterwards. The release of the RiverMobile will hopefully occur in Fall 2012.

Check at Exhibit Concepts online! (

A Field Trip with Dr. McEwan's Plant Diversity & Ecology Lab

Students listen while the Rivers Institute talks about different land use and assets in the Great Miami Watershed, before beginning their float along the Mad River. Along the way, students will observe a series of changes along the river bank; including natural riparian zones, floodplain, industrial/manufacturing areas and urban riverfronts.

Floating along EastWood MetroPark, students learn about riparian zones and discuss the benefits they have on river systems and water quality.

Student enjoy the fountains at RiverScape in downtown Dayton, at the end of their paddle.