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  • Reversing a Reversal

    August 13th, 2010 by Mike Bryant

    The Chicago River was reversed in 1900.  Today, there are groups that would like to see the river return to its original path.  This virtual field-trip was designed to introduce students to the Chicago River, highlight its history and provide background information on the reversal.  Starting at my home in Highland Park, I’m not currently in the classroom, I introduce the reversal and the project at hand using a website called Wix.  Although the Wix site does not show in the above Google Earth embed, it is integrated into the KML file that may easily be loaded into the full Google Earth software.  Wix allows for the easy creation of a tiny website, a widget, that can then be embedded into Google Earth.  This makes for easy formating and multimedia integration, without all the coding.

    Using Wix throughout the project, I included links to outside sources as well as audio explanations.  Progressing from my home, the next stop on the trip just happens to be in front of our Discovery offices in downtown Chicago, Fort Dearborn.  No Fort there today, just a plaque, but this stop will provide students with a historical perspective of the river.  Skipping ahead in time and down the river, the next stop is actually a path tracing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.  The Canal, built to redirect the flow of the river into the Mississippi Basin, starts just south of downtown and stretches 28 miles southwest.

    The next stop on our trip, takes us back north to an area of the river just out of downtown.  Here in the heart of an industrial zone, wildlife is abundant on the river.  I personally made this trip down the river to observe firsthand the conditions. I was surprised to see several species of fish and birds. It was actually peaceful even-though  you’re in the heart of the third largest city in the country. That said, I wouldn’t drink the water.  There are definite pollution problems. Students are linked to different websites dealing with the Chicago River ecology.

    The final stop of our  field trip used to be the final stop of the Chicago River, the locks at Navy Pier.  Here students are given a quick spot assessment using the Discovery Education streaming Quiz Builder.  Embedded in the quiz are additional articles and video segments related to the Chicago River.

    Chicago River Virtual Field-Trip KML File

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