Learning on the Ohio River

Published 12:40 am Sunday, October 26, 2008

Is it still called a field trip if the students go out on the Ohio River?

“Yes, it is,” said Kingsbury Elementary teacher Bob Rowe. “As long as it is educational and this was educational.”

The field trip in question was a ride on a sternwheeler called the P.A. Denny. More than 500 students from Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia got a chance to spend a couple of hours on the boat and learn about the river, its inhabitants and pollution.

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The boat docked in Ironton on Friday and students from Kingsbury Elementary got on at noon as students from St. Lawrence and Ceredo-Kenova elementary schools disembarked.

The students had a number of programs on the two and a half hour cruise including taking water samples to judge the condition of the river, what can live at the various stages of the river, how pollution gets in the river and collecting critters from the river and what they do.

Rowe said the school used this as an opportunity to tie in science class with Friday’s program.

“The kids actually knew a lot of the stuff they talked about,” he said.

Student Zach Turner said he learned about pollution and the water. When asked about the levels in the Ohio River, he said it “was pretty ok.”

Austin Harper said he thought the boat was awesome and it was the first time he had ever been on a boat.

“I learned about chemicals and how it affects oxygen in the water,” he said. “And we got to catch little creatures.”

Zach Butler had been on the P.A. Denny when he was two but didn’t really remember much about it.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “It was fun.”

Lydia Reidling liked seeing the fish.

“I learned a lot of stuff about pollution,” she said. “It was the first time I ever rode a boat and I was scared. I thought it was going to sink.”

Abby Jackson liked learning about pollution and riding the boat.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said.

Kali Thompson liked the boat and learning about the river.

“I got to touch a fish,” she said. “I liked when we got to draw our houses on the river.”

Payton Ratliff liked the program too.

“We got to learn how the water keeps the fish alive and how dirt and pollution will clog its gills,” he said. “I liked catching bugs off the boat.”

The P.A. Denny was built in 1930 in Charleston, W.Va. and is now based in Newport, Ky. It was turned into a “floating classroom” in 2004 by the ORSANCO Educational Foundation to teach about the Ohio River Basin and pollution.

The Marathon Oil Foundation was the sponsor of the P.A. Denny this week.

Lisa Brown, an administrative assistant with the Marine Transportation Department, was in charge coordinating the event between the schools and the program.

“Marathon Petroleum and Marine Transportation, we have a responsible care obligation to not only to the environment but also to the community,” she said. “So this is part of our effort to getting everyone aware of the environment.”

She said that the idea is to first teach the children who will teach their parents.

For more information about the P.A. Denny, go to oef.orsanco.org.