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River City Curriculum - Overview

The River City Project concentrates on the areas of epidemiology, scientific inquiry, and experimentation. Based on recommendations outlined by the National Research Council (2000), the River City Curriculum supports students as they:

River City is a 17 hour, time-on-task curriculum that includes a pretest and a research conference at the end of the unit. Teachers are not expected to find extra time in the school year in order to implement River City. On the contrary, the River City Curriculum is designed and intended to replace existing lessons. The River City Curriculum is interdisciplinary in scope, spanning the domains of ecology, health, biology, chemistry, and earth science, as well as history.

Three diseases simultaneously affect health in River City, based on historical, social, and geographical content. As students explore these diseases, they learn how disease is spread and how human interactions can have effects far from the initial site. This situation allows students to experience the realities of identifying a problem, investigating it, and delineating the multiple causes that underlie a complex phenomenon. Students follow multiple threads that potentially lead to very different hypotheses and experiments. This helps refute the common belief that there is one right answer to any science experiment.


National Research Council. (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 9980464, 0296001, 0202543, 0310188, and 0532446. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.