Science Matters →

Floating Classroom on the James: James River Expedition 2012

The Second Annual James River Expedition – a floating classroom on the James – is underway. The three-part Expedition launched from Iron Gate near Covington, Virginia on June 23 and will conclude in Hampton on July 28. Students and teachers from nine different high schools across Virginia are paddling and exploring one of the three major geographical sections of the James – the upper, middle and lower James. During the expedition, students learn about the James by conducting scientific experiments such as water-quality testing, macro-invertebrate sampling, and wildlife identification. They are also touring facilities along the river and talking with experts on the history and ecology of the River.

Watch the Science Mattters video report from WCVE Public Radio’s John Ogle to learn about the team that arrived in Cartersville, Virginia on Saturday.


Participating teachers are Cathryn Mehl from Hopewell High School, Jane Selden from J.R.Tucker High School, Nancy Lewis from Goochland High School and Melinda VanDevelder from Varina High School. Each teacher is joined by four students from their school, chosen for this second-annual floating classroom experience along the length of the James River. Participants from Goochland and Varina completed the Middle James Expedition with students from Albemarle County between July 7 and 14, while the participants from Hopewell and J.R. Tucker High will join students from Botetourt County on the Lower James Expedition from July 21 to 28.

The Richmond-area students and teachers were selected from among applicants from across the James River watershed, which covers 25 percent of Virginia’s land area. Other schools represented in the three-part Expedition are Hampton High School, James River High School in Botetourt County, and Charlottesville-area schools such as Albemarle High School, Charlottesville High School and Western Albemarle High School.

“The Expeditions are conducted by the James River Association as part of an effort to define a consensus-based community vision for the future of the James River,” said Gabe Silver, education and outreach manager with the James River Association. “More information about this project, done in partnership with National Geographic Maps and the Chesapeake Conservancy, is available at

The Expedition is sponsored by The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources.

Discover more stories like this at Science Matters.