Clarke College Receives Over $423,000 to Fund ‘River Quest’

posted on May 4, 2010

Clarke College recently received its third grant from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa to continue “River Quest,” a week-long immersion institute and follow-up activities for elementary school teachers focused on connecting science to the Mississippi River and its watershed.

The grant was awarded under Title IIB funding for the Improving Teacher Quality State Grant Program of the No Child Left Behind Act. The $423,229 grant will fund the program for the next two years, including stipends for the elementary school teachers to attend as well as classroom supplies. Teachers will participate in several field trips during River Quest and at its conclusion will also receive funding for one field trip for their class.

Only five spots remain for this summer’s program designed for teachers from grades K-2, which will be held from Jun 15-18, June 21-23 and August 2-3, with follow-up days the following spring. Teachers interested in enrolling can learn more at

River Quest started in 2004 and is a partnership among Clarke College (including the biology, chemistry, computer science and education departments), the Dubuque Community Schools, the Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Keystone AEA and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.

During the workshop, participants, all of whom are elementary school teachers, are aided in developing grade-appropriate teaching modules to use in their classrooms. This institute is cross-disciplinary, including topics in biology, chemistry, physical science, mathematics and technology. “River Quest will provide not only the content and pedagogy, but the comfort level that elementary teachers need to do justice to science lessons,” said Andrea Bixler, Ph.D., associate professor of biology at Clarke.

Bixler said that research shows that this program is important in enhancing science education. According to national surveys of science education, K-5 teachers spend an average of 114 minutes teaching students reading and language arts but only 25 minutes a day on science instruction. Over 30 percent of K-4 students receive no science instruction at all on a typical day.

“We will emphasize interdisciplinary connections to encourage teachers to spend more time in science lessons without feeling they have jeopardized their teaching of other subjects,” said Bixler. “Through River Quest, teachers will gain enhanced science and pedagogical knowledge that will help them do this while seeing student learning increased.”

Bixler is available for media interviews regarding River Quest. To schedule an interview, or for more information, contact the Clarke College Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318.


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