Waters On the Go!
To see where the Bus is going to be next, view our Calendar of Events
Photos by Jamal Richards
What: A STEAM-based environmental educational program
Who: Pre-K to 3rd grade students and their teachers, families, and caregivers
When: September-October/April-June (school visits) and year-round for public festivals
Where: Bronx schools and public festivals throughout the Bronx
Funders: Con Edison, Educational Foundation of America, HW Wilson Foundation, New York City Council (Bronx Delegation), New York Yankees Foundation, Partnership for Parks, Tortuga Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Rose M. Badgeley Residuary Charitable Trust, TD Charitable Foundation
Goals: Participants in the Waters On the Go! program will:
Understand that the Bronx River and Orchard Beach are located in their neighborhood and are accessible by public transportation
Be able to identify flora and fauna found along these waterways
Understand the connection between animals and their environment
Be able to talk about (or draw) ways in which they can protect and preserve the waterways
Want to go visit the waterways with their family or school
Program Description: Waters On the Go! is housed in the museum’s eye-catching purple bus called Museum-On-the Go. The exhibit described below is part of a comprehensive educational environmental program aligned with the core standards including beautiful educator resources and a suitcase exhibit. The program is used to teach children about water, the flora and fauna that live along both waterways, and the Native American Siwanoy who used to live in the Bronx. Annually, the bus makes approximately 20 visits to schools and over 25 visits to festivals, parades, shelters, and community organizations. More than 60,000 people have visited the bus!
On the bus, Museum guides engage small groups of children in a journey exploring the fauna and flora and the artifacts left behind by the Siwanoy. The program and the exhibit is designed to inspire and teach children to connect with nature and history, to learn about the natural resources in the Bronx and to become stewards of the environment.
Waters On the Go! is the Museum’s third mobile exhibit, and in its previous incarnation it was known as Rivers On the Go! Originally piloted in 2011, the exhibit focused first on the Bronx River and its flora and fauna before being remodeled to encompass the Harlem River and the High Bridge. Now in its third transformation, the WOTG! program is a testament to the type of Bronx-centric programming the Museum hopes to offer in its soon-to-open permanent facility. Despite being a “museum without walls,” the Museum On the Go bus has allowed us to reach over 75,000 visitors since 2011.
The Bronx River is the only fresh water river in New York City. After years of heavy polluting, the river has finally been restored to a manageable state that allows Bronxites to use it recreationally for canoeing, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The ongoing conservation and stewardship of the area has led to increased plant and wildlife along the river, including the re-emergence of beavers, which were previously extinct in New York City for nearly two hundred years.
Orchard Beach lies in the Long Island Sound and is the only beach in the Bronx. Though the beach itself is manmade, there is archaeological evidence that Native Americans once inhabited Orchard Beach, which lies in Pelham Bay Park. Today, the beach and its surrounding park offer many recreational activities such as canoeing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing.
The Waters on the Go! exhibit comes with grade-appropriate literature, lesson plans, Fun Fact Cards, posters, maps, and more. Museum staff members meet with principals and teachers before the visit to share information about the Museum and the Waters On the Go! program, and discuss the best ways to prepare students for a visit. There is an assessment component, too.
During a school visit, classes are divided into three smaller groups and children and their teachers spend 60-90 minutes rotating through three 20-30 minute Museum activities:
A hands-on experience with our suitcase exhibit, a collection of interactive specimens related to the waterways, including an opportunity to examine micro-organisms up close under the microscope;
An art activity;
An interactive, guided visit of the bus
Once inside the bus, students are asked to imagine where they are while listening to the sounds of water, seagulls cawing, and beavers flapping their tails. Museum Guides share the journey of water with students while they explore the differences between a river and an ocean habitats. Within the exhibit students can investigate and identify native animals such as beavers, horseshoe crabs, skunks, red-tailed hawks and more. Students are encouraged to explore with flashlights and magnifying glasses and locate animals along the river and in the ocean as well.
Before students exit the bus, they share with one Museum Guide what they found the most interesting part of the exhibit. During this same time, another Museum Guide secretly distributes trash on one area of the exhibit. Museum guides ask children to identify what changed in the environment and ask them how they can work together to keep the water clean. As students exit the bus they work together to clean up and begin the process of becoming stewards of their environment.
Before and after groups of students visit the exhibit in the bus, they explore the Waters On the Go! Suitcase Exhibit with other Museum Guides. The Suitcase holds literature, puppets, puzzles, animal pelts, scientific artifacts, microscope slides, and more. Teachers are encouraged to continue the Waters On the Go! program, even after the Museum leaves by creating dioramas, murals, making pottery ― you name it. The Museum also gives teachers a Teacher Resource Packet with many activity ideas that are carefully aligned to the Common Core Standards.
“The program was awesome! It made my students interested in caring for the environment. They immediately saw trash on the floor and proactively wanted to pick it up. The exposure gave them motivation to take care of the Bronx!” –Melissa Noble, 2nd Grade Teacher at Bronx Little School
“This experience was such an age appropriate hands-on experience for my kids. They lack this true science experience in our curriculum.” –Allison Blessington, 1st Grade Teacher at P.S. 28
The Waters On the Go! bus travels to approximately 25 public events every year, mostly during the spring and summer months. At these events, which are held in public parks, libraries, community centers, and schoolyards, Museum Guides offer visitors an interactive experience on the bus before engaging them in a corresponding art activity and/or Suitcase Exhibit. At public festivals, children of all ages are encouraged to participate with their families, friends, and caregivers.
When the bus is unavailable to participate at a public event, Museum Educators attend and provide hands-on art activities or experiences related to the Waters On the Go! exhibit such as creating pottery, microscope labs, animal habitat collages, animal puppets, or group murals.
To learn more about Waters On the Go! or to request a visit, please contact Jessica Montalvo-Jackson, Director of School Programs and Education.