Cliff Cave Park Exploration

What was your driving question?

What geological features are in Missouri?

Grades Involved

Grades 3rd

How did this project connect to your local or regional community?

Our school is 100 yards from the entrance to Cliff Cave County Park which is a large wooded park that winds down to the Mississippi River. The 3rd-grade team was able to connect the social studies topic to the local park so students could explore and find examples in their own backyard.

What PBE principles were highlighted in this project?

Learner-Centered, Community as Classroom, Interdisciplinary Approach, & Inquiry Based

Standards: List standards or competencies that the project addresses

Social studies standards included being able to research a topic and create a presentation to share with the class. Writing skills were also used in their research time. Students working in groups to present needed to be able to negotiate and work together.



Project Description

Students read about MO features in their social studies textbooks and learned how to research a topic using reliable resources. They made observations of the features they learned about while walking on Cliff Cave Trail. Using their research skills they learned more about Cave County Park and created a product of their choice to share their knowledge with the class. Then a Park Ranger from St. Louis County Parks came in and talked about the actual cave in the park and the endangered bats that live there. This also allowed them to ask other questions about the park.


How did this positively impact the community? How was it shared?

Students have a better understanding of the history of the park that they visit often as well as the important work being done to protect the bats. Students can share this information with their friends and family and many of them didn’t know about the bats so they are excited to share the information.

Reflection: What was the biggest challenge? What was the most rewarding aspect of this project?

Some 3rd graders didn’t have permission to go into the park and the social studies curriculum is new so we were all learning how to navigate the resources. The most rewarding thing was seeing the students engaged during the entire project.

Any advice for a teacher or student that is implementing a PBE project for the first time?

The teachers shared that they saw this as an opportunity to try out a place-based project right away when school started. They were excited about how it all came together and felt good about a first attempt. Next year they will consider doing it again and have some more ideas about how to improve the project. The students loved it and many said it was fun to get to learn about the park and also go for an exploratory hike. They enjoyed learning about the bats as well from the ranger and liked having an expert explain things to them.