Paddle Down The Kaw

Have you ever dreamed of paddling down a river all the way from 

its beginning to its end?

What is it like to be a river explorer?

Believe it or not, many rivers are not well known. Even in the 21st century! That means you can still be an explorer and map new territory. 

An explorer with 21st century technology. That's even better. 

Our own river, the Kansas River, is largely a mystery. How could that be? Well, until recently it was hard to even get down to the river. There were almost no places to launch a boat. Many cities were completely walled off by levees. And many people didn't even realize that there was a big, beautiful river right in the middle of their town!

Can you imagine, a river that's 171 miles long (that's a big river!) and people didn't even know it was there?

The Kansas River isn't very good to big boats, that's one of the problems. When people tried to use big boats to navigate the Kansas River they ran aground and sank. The old paddle wheel boats like the Steamboat Arabia had a really bad time of it. So there wasn't much interest in building boat ramps or taking boats up and down the river, and the Kansas River was pretty much forgotten. 

But now we are exploring it with canoes and kayaks. Its slow going, but there's a lot to see. You can paddle all the way from the beginning, in Junction City, to Kansas City, where it ends.

Can you zoom in on the map and find exactly where the river begins and where it ends?  What's there?

View Kansas River Teens4theKaw map in a larger map

Get Ready

Now its time to get ready to do some serious virtual exploring on the river.

What kind of a boat are you going to use? 

A canoe? A kayak? What type? 
Hint: You will need to have enough room for food, water, camping gear, and everything you'll need for your journey. There is no need to worry about whitewater. The Kansas River is big, so its best to get a canoe or kayak that is made for big, calm water.

Make sure you have a hat, sunglasses, and definitely a life vest. What else? And don't forget your paddle!

How much food and water will you need? What will you eat?

Better make sure you have at least two days worth, since you will need to make it from one boat ramp to another before you can restock.

And remember, you'll need a paddling buddy- we never go out on the river alone.

Once you have a list of everything you need, make drawings and photograph them, or take photos of your stuff. We will use these digital photographs when we write the story of your adventure.

Now that you have all your virtual gear and supplies, you are ready to launch your boat at Junction City and begin paddling down the river.

Oh- one more thing. Make sure you have Google Earth on your computer, that's one of the 21st century technologies we will need.   Download Google Earth

Tell the story of your adventure

You can create a Powerpoint slideshow with all your drawings and screenshots of your Google Earth map to make a slideshow or book of your adventures.

You can write a blog- we did!

You can make an animation using Scratch

Try using a green screen and videotaping yourself, then add your drawings and Google Earth screen shots to the background.

If you have an adult to help you, you can insert photos into your Google Earth map (you have to upload the photos to the web so have an adult do that for you). 

More Information about the Kansas River

There are two rivers that come together to form the beginning of the Kansas River in Junction City (its named that because its at the "junction" of the two rivers). The southern river is the Smoky Hill River, and the northern river is the Republican River. The Kansas River ends by joining the Missouri River in Kansas City, 171 miles down from Junction City. 

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. If you combine the Missouri River with the Mississippi River, they make the 4th longest river in the entire world. So the Kansas River is part of a huge river system, that goes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. For data on the size of rivers in North America click here

Kansas River Inventory blog- our adventures from Junction City to Kansas City in 11 Days (plus 1)

Dr. Cynthia Annett,
Mar 4, 2013, 5:18 PM