Liberty Middle School Fifth graders got a very hands-on lesson in river biology when they literally got into the Ninnescah River Oct. 14 as part of their "River Frolic" day.

The sounds of excited children rang out from the Ninnescah River as Liberty Middle School students literally went down to the river on a very much hands-on field trip Friday.

Friday was "Fall Frolic" day for the 6-8 grade classes at LMS. Science Teacher Connie Schartz wanted the fifth graders to have an activity of their own that would get them out of the classroom and be a unique learning experience.

So she worked with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to create "River Frolic" that would get the students into the Ninnescah River to learn how the river is important for the animals in the river and for the plants along the bank and how they interact, Schartz said.

The fifth graders broke into several groups and paid a visit to the KDWPT Education Center and Museum, took in the fish hatchery and then headed for the river.

Students and fifth grade faculty waded into the river for some up close lessons with KDWPT staff. Acting as teachers were KDWPT Stream Biologists Jeff Conley and Ryan Waters and Seasonal Ecological Technicians Emily Dutton and Kali Boroughs.

"It was a time to explore the South Fork of the Ninnescah and learn about the river," said LMS Social Studies teacher Kyle Ricke.

It took a little time to get used to the cold water but soon the students were enjoying their time in the river as their "teachers" explained how the river and the plants worked together and how the river provided a home for many species, Waters said.

To help the students understand how many species live in the river, the KDWPT staff used seine nets to catch a variety of animals. The staff would walk down the river and seine as they went then showed the students the different species. One catch yielded nine different species. Students were excited to see the different species and even got to hold some from the net.

Some of the students have never been in a river or been fishing so this was a very exciting time for them, said LMS Math Teacher Anthony Brown.

While the students enjoyed being in the river and seeing the various fish species, this was still very much a teaching exercise and students were asked what they had learned from the experience. They learned that even though the river was very cold, it was considered a warm water river.

Students learned much about how the river impacts the life in the water and along its banks. They were surprised how many species lived in and along the banks of the river.

When the river adventure was over and the students got out of the water, they were excited and some wanted to stay and spend more time in the river.

Schartz said teacher Lu Bitter used to bring students to the river and Schartz wanted give these students the same experience.

@GaleR_Tribune