Creek Critters

A Cumberland River Compact Educational Outreach Program

Stormwater Model

Students interacting with Compact’s stormwater model

Creek Critters is an interactive educational program for elementary school students, where we bring the creek to you! The goal of our Creek Critters program is to get kids interested in science and in our precious water resources at a young age.

In the Creek Critters program, we arrange to visit a local school (churches or community groups are also welcome to host if interested) and teach 3-4 classes about water issues and aquatic organisms. The program is targeted at 4th grade but should be suitable for kids from 2nd grade to 5th grade. In a typical set up, we try to cycle through an entire grade during that grade’s science period. A typical presentation lasts about an hour per class, but can be varied to suit your schedule.

The program is completely free to interested schools – all we ask for is a space to host it (libraries have worked well, as have outdoor classrooms!) We can also host a Creek Critters event at our offices in downtown Nashville for smaller schools that may have less space for hosting.

Creek Critters is made possible by the generous support of the Nashville Predators Foundation and the volunteer efforts of Annie Goodhue, a retired TDEC Aquatic Biologist who is leading the program for us!

What does Creek Critters Entail?

We vary the program depending on the time available, student ages, and teacher requests, but some of the elements we’ve used have included the following:

Kids at Crieve Hall play an interactive game to learn about the aquatic ecosystems and food webs!

Kids at Crieve Hall play an interactive game to learn about the aquatic ecosystems and food webs!

  1. A short introduction where we talk about what the Compact does and why it’s important to protect our streams and rivers.
  2. A brief lesson using a model of a watershed that teaches the kids about watersheds and the effect of urban development on pollution and flooding.
  3. A brief lesson on where water is found (oceans, ice caps, lakes) and how we depend on a tiny fraction of this water to sustain us.
  4. A short lesson on aquatic biology and how we capture our creek critters for study!
  5. Some interactive games that teach children about the aquatic animals and the web of life (pictured).
  6. And most importantly, the CRITTERS, an interactive component where we have live and preserved aquatic animals (fish, crayfish, aquatic insects) available for the kids to look at.   These critters are collected at a local creek so the kids can see what kind of aquatic organisms are in their neighborhood.
    Students investigate a tray of live critters from Browns Creek!

    Students investigate a tray of live critters from Browns Creek!

How many animals can you find hidden among the debris in this tub of creek water?

There are at least six different types.IMG_0687

How do I get involved in Creek Critters?

If you’d like the Cumberland River Compact to do a Creek Critter show at your school, please contact Gray Perry at gray.perry@cumberlandrivercompact.org to arrange a time for a visit.  We are currently seeking interested schools for fall 2017!