River Classroom, A Unique Experience


RiverClassroom, an educational outreach program of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, is now accepting reservations from educators for programs aboard the Blackstone Valley Explorer, a 49-passenger riverboat.

Patricia McAlpine, Blackstone River Education Coordinator for the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council since September 2004, states that the goal of RiverClassroom is to develop historical and environmental educational programs that are presented on board the Blackstone Valley Explorer and throughout the Blackstone River Valley in the classroom.   Since 1993, The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the first organization to present education programs on the river, has made their riverboat, the Explorer, available as a floating education center. 

RiverClassroom programs are high-quality, inquiry-based educational programs that allow students to explore the river’s diverse eco-system, perform grade-appropriate water quality tests, observe and identify species of plant and animals, as well as learn about the river’s eco-industrial past and the people and places that helped shape Rhode Island’s history.  Students will also learn the effect human development has had on the watershed and what actions they can take to keep the river clean.   We can customize our programs to meet your curriculum needs.  RiverClassroom is designed to provide a unique educational experience for students of all ages.

Schools from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island have taken part in these educational cruises.  “We see the RiverClassroom as a partnership where our communities and our sponsors working together to teach our young people about protecting our natural environment,” said Tourism Council President Robert Billington.

If field trip funding is an issue, please give us a call.  Thanks to our sponsors, including Credit Union Central Falls and Bristol County Savings Bank, City of Pawtucket, Hope Global, Cadillac Mills and Helping Hands Associates, scholarships are available on a need basis, and we would be glad to discuss this option with you.

To promote educational awareness to local communities, Citizens Bank has provided a grant to underwrite “Free Sundays on the River” as part of public tour program on the First Sunday of each month from June through October.  Public tours are available every Sunday June-October at 1, 2, 3 & 4 pm.

“The possibilities of spotting wildlife in this riparian habitat abounds.  “From turtles to swans, a blue heron or osprey soaring overhead, a cormorant drying its wings from an overhanging tree branch or the once elusive fish jumping for insects, life on the river is back, says McAlpine, “Some of the students that have participated in a RiverClassroom program will see a Great Blue Heron or Osprey for the first time while out on a cruise.  That is very exciting for me as well as for me to see the look on their faces.”  Students become engaged as they test the water quality or check the water temperature as they learn about the Blackstone River’s eco-industrial past as the first industrialized river and the first polluted river in America.  Taking advantage of the popularity of the CSI series on television, we call our ecology program RSI or River Science Investigation.  Students look for indicators or clues that water is getting cleaner while understanding the actions they can take to keep the river clean.”

In addition to programs offered for students, we also offer workshops for teachers.  A new program, funded with a grant from the Dunn Foundation, “Views of Valley” an interactive program that enhances student relationships with their heritage and local environment, is available as a one-day teacher workshop to present an eight-week classroom curriculum.

For more information about a RiverClassroom program aboard the Blackstone Valley Explorer or to receive a copy of an education brochure, educators may contact Patricia McAlpine, Blackstone River Education Coordinator at 401-724-2200 or by email at patti@tourblackstone.com


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