Friends Western School Students Explore the L.A. River

Students at Friends Western School headed out to Marsh Park along the L.A. River for some fun, hands-on learning about river ecology, water quality, and filtration.

Children from TK through fifth grade began with a nature walk guided by a member of FOLAR (Friends of the L.A. River). With the help of a field guide, students explored the riverbank and nearby island, and learned how to identify plants and animals along the river.

Students worked in small groups to collect water samples. They used magnifying glasses to find and identify macroinvertebrates– tiny insects whose presence can indicate water quality.

Finally, students got a chance to create their own water filtration systems with household items like plastic bottles, coffee filters, and cotton balls. The students tested each filtration system, and compared notes.

“I really liked building the water filtration models,” said Henry, a fifth grader at Friends Western School. “It was fun to see how everyone used the materials and how they came out in the end.”

Every month the entire student body at Friends Western School heads out for a day of Outdoor Exploration, led by teacher Tim Noonan. Outdoor Exploration allows students to take what they’re learning in the classroom, and apply it to the real world. Other all school Outdoor Exploration trips this year have included the Dawn Mine Trail, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, Eaton Canyon, and the UCLA Stunt Ranch where students expanded their research into the culture and history of the Chumash Indians.

Friends Western School, 524 East Orange Grove Blvd. Pasadena, (626) 817-2481 or visit






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