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Marcellus Shale + River Ecosystems

90 Minute Programs

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Dear Partners in Education,

The RiverQuest Board of Directors announced recently that the nonprofit is actively seeking to merge with another agency to preserve its river-based education program.

Additional information will be posted as it becomes available. Please feel free to contact RiverQuest with any questions at 412-231-2712.


Marcellus Shale + River Ecosystems

This program has concluded and is no longer available.



Grades: 4-12

Season: N/A

Program Day: 4.5 hours

Students explore topics out of today's headlines as they travel Pittsburgh's famous three rivers onboard Explorer, a floating laboratory.

Hands-on activities shed light on the geology and physcial science of shale gas extraction, and discussions consider both the opportunities and challenges of this new industry. Microscopic water analysis reveals the tiny life forms that are the origin of the natural gas found within shale.  Students explore point-vs-nonpoint source pollution and work together to test the rivers for several chemical indicators of water quality.



4.1 Ecology:
Grade 5 – 4.1.5 B. Explain the basic components of the water cycle.
Grade 6 – 4.1.6 F. Describe relationships using inference and prediction
Grade 8 – 4.1.8 B. Describe the rock cycle and the processes that are responsible for   

     the formation of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks.

4.2 Watersheds and Wetlands:
Grade 5 – 4.2.5 C. Identify physical, biological, chemical factors that affect water

Grade 6 – 4.2.6 C. Identify natural and human-made factors that affect water    

Grade 7 – 4.2.7 A. Explain how water enters, moves through, and leaves a watershed.
Grade 8 – 4.2.8 A. Describe factors that affect the quality of ground and surface waters.

4.3 Natural Resources:
Grade 7 – 4.3.7 A. Differentiate between renewable and nonrenewable resources
Grade 7 - 4.3.7 B. Differentiate among resource conservation, preservation and 

Grade 8 – 4.3.8 A. Compare and contrast alternative sources of energy.

4.5 Humans and the Environment:
Grade 5 –4.5.5 C. Explain the difference between point and non-point source pollution.
Grade 6 –4.5.6 A. Examine how historical events have shaped sustainable use of
Grade 7 –4.5.7 C. Explain how human actions affect the health of the environment.
Grade 8 –4.5.8 D. Compare and contrast waste generated from various sources of  


3.3.A Earth Structures, Processes and Cycles:
Grade 5 – 3.3.5A1. Describe how landforms are the result of destructive forces such as
      erosion and deposition of sediment
Grade 6 – 3.3.6A4. Describe how water on earth cycles in different forms and in different
      locations, including underground and in the atmosphere.
Grade 7 –3.3.7.A3. Explain and give examples of how physical evidence that supports
      theories that the Earth has evolved over geologic time.
Grade 8 –3.3.8.A2: Describe renewable and nonrenewable energy resources.


* Minimums may apply.  Actual cost of $100/student is subsidized through the generous support of foundations, corporations and government agencies.