New, Free STEM Curriculum Launches

Current is excited to launch our free STEM curriculum, River Lab, as part of our mission to increase access and equity in water-focused careers in Illinois.

What is River Lab? River Lab is a free virtual curriculum focusing on water quality and the Chicago River. High school students will dive into a water-focused, STEM virtual field trip where they will be introduced to water quality parameters, discover the Chicago River, learn about science careers, and explore real science data. This program is designed for grades 9-12, and contains 1.5-5.5 hours of flexible curriculum components for teachers to use in-classroom or in virtual learning environments, all on their own time.

How is River Lab innovative? River Lab is Current’s first curriculum based on H2NOW Chicago, our recently launched real-time water quality monitoring platform. In addition to learning about the Chicago River and water careers, students will also be able to explore authentic water quality data and learn about the new and innovative technologies that help us monitor our waterways.

Why did Current make River Lab? River Lab is just one of many educational tools that Current will produce to create access and equity in STEM education in Illinois. We hope this free program will inspire interest in water stewardship, highlight opportunity in science careers here in Illinois, and promote equity in STEM education.

How was River Lab developed? River Lab was created as a collaboration between Current, our partners, and public school teachers, and was made possible with the generous support of the Walder Foundation. In Spring 2021, we hired STEM curriculum expert Miranda Kerr Consulting LLC to lead the project. We began by launching a teacher needs assessment to understand what kinds of tools would be helpful to teachers in a virtual learning environment. We then created a council of CPS STEM teachers to advise us on the project, and provide useful feedback and resources to shape the curriculum. Current also partnered with Northwestern University’s Design Thinking and Communication course, where undergraduate students proposed creative curriculum models. One student group suggested a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game, which became the basis for the final curriculum.

How should I get involved? Help us spread the word – please share this curriculum with educators and youth-serving institutions in your network. You could post about it on Twitter and LinkedIn, include River Lab in your newsletters, or send it directly to anyone who might find it useful. You can also get in touch with us if you are interested in partnering with Current.

More information: See this video for more information about the curriculum components and goals, and learn more about how it was developed in partnership with teachers.

Questions? Please reach out to Kalindi Parikh, for more information or to get involved.

We hope you have fun exploring the river! 

In Partnership,

Team Current