Classroom Activities

Classroom Activities Quick INFO:

  • All classroom activities are FREE and tailored to fit group needs.
  • All classroom activities are offered for all ages and grades. (except where noted)
  • Classroom activities can be done as a complete series or individually upon request.
  • All classroom activities are available only on weekdays. (weekends upon request/w staff availability)
  • All supplies provided by the city.

students participating in activities

The Office of Sustainability created an education series based on a holistic approach of community-based educational programming with a focus on city-centric themed topics. 

  • Our Local City/Government (Services)
  • The Water Cycle (Our local waterways)
  • City Recycling Program & Litter Prevention
  • Environmental Conservation (Your Environment)
  • Energy Conservation (Utilities)
  • Water Conservation (Drinking)

Environmental sustainability is one of the most important challenges facing future generations.  Investing time and funds in these issues is not a trend, but a lifestyle.  The Office of Sustainability works to educate young and old, on campus, in the community, and throughout Boone County and beyond.


Michael J. Heimos

Office of Sustainability

MS4 Education & Outreach Program

PHONE: 573.817.6447 

michael.heimos@como.govcreate new email




How does our city work?

Grades: K to 12 / 1 .5 Hrs.

I take my trash to the end of my driveway and it disappears! I switch on a light and it works! I flush the toilet and it goes away! I put my recycling out and swoosh it’s gone? The traffic signals just work…and change from red to green! But how does all this work?
columbia city hall

Maintaining Columbia’s infrastructure is a major part of city operations. Roads, traffic signals, street signs, the stormwater and sewer systems, fleet management, equipment and facilities all have master plans in place to ensure that they remain functional and are maintained consistent with the needs of the community, both now and in the future. During this presentation, students will gain a better understanding of how their local city/government works. 

Video:  City Channel

Suggested Classroom Activities: Explore the city website

Our form of Government: opens in a new windowThe Council-Manager Form of Government




Environmental Conservation – Meet the Worms in the Classroom

Grades: K to 8 / 1.5 Hrs. – Red worms & classroom worm bin supplied by the city.   

Meet the Worms in the Classroom! The worm lesson is designed for all K to 4-grade students and lasts about one hour and fifteen minutes. It starts with hands-on learning in small groups. 

Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. Compost exits the worm through its’ tail end.

This compost can then be used to grow plants. To understand why vermicompost is good for plants, remember that the worms are eating nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable scraps, and turning them into nutrient-rich compost. All this happens within your very own classroom worm bin!

Video: Worms are Wonderful!

Suggested Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1: 16 CLASSIC AND CREATIVE WAYS TO TEACH WORMSstudents participating in activities



The Water Cycle  – Streams in the Classroom (our local waterways)

Grades: K to 12 / 1.5 Hrs. 

DO YOU KNOW YOUR WATERSHED? The City of Columbia, Missouri has 15 watersheds located just within our city limits. The largest watershed is the Hinkson Creek watershed. The Hinkson drains roughly 88.5 square miles of land, all in Boone County. 

Understanding the hydrologic (water) cycle is critical to understanding the concept of the watershed. Without the water cycle, watersheds would cease to exist. It is the water cycle at work that gives us, here in Columbia, the seemingly endless supply of water we enjoy.

Students learn about the water cycle and other important facts to help protect our local waterways. 

Video:The Basics of Freshwater

Streams in the Classroom – Suggested Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1:  Do You Know Your Watershed?

Lesson 2:The Great Pacific Garbage Patch  opens in a new window

Lesson 3: All About Water!

Map and watershed sign




Understanding Your Environment – Trees, Bees, & Seeds 

Grades: K to 12 / 2 Hrs. All supplies provided by the city.

Why are trees and plants important? What is erosion? Who are our pollinators? How does all this fit together? What can I do to make a difference?

This lesson helps students understand our effect on their environment at home, at school, and around the community. 

Watching plants grow is a fun and educational experience for children. Growing plant seeds with kids teach them how nature works, responsibility in caring for something, an interest in environmental sustainability and pride in themselves for the results.

I choose easy seeds for kids that are large enough to handle and germinate readily. Giant sunflowers are fascinating in their height and easy to grow.

Students can take home their own potted sunflower & plant it in the yard!

Video: Living Things Change

Understanding Your Environment – Suggested Classroom Activities:

Lesson 1:  Do You Know Your Watershed?

Lesson 2: Plants (Botany) – Teacher Resources

Lesson 3: The Honeybee Conservancy

Lesson 4: Pollinators, the Ultimate Providers

Lesson 5: Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition

Lesson 6: Life Cycle of a Plant

students participating in activities




Recycling and Litter Education – Litter/Recycling Pickup Relay

Grades: K to 12 / Play Ground or Gym Activity / 1.5 Hrs.

Learn about the City’s recycling program in a fun and easy outdoor/indoor activity! Students learn creative ways to be more sustainable in their everyday lives!


They come away with a better understanding of how littering impacts our local community! Even the smallest of people can make the biggest impact!

This fun activity gets your students moving and teaches them the importance of being a good citizen, personal responsibility and how we all impact our environment and can improve our community!


RECYCLING – Suggested Classroom Activities:


Lesson 1: 3RC (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Compost)

Lesson 2: Design a Recycling Game!

Lesson 3: Make Your Own Recycled Paper

Land Fill

Lesson 1: Solid Waste Takes Over

Lesson 2: This Landfill Is a Gas!

Lesson 3: Composting – Nature’s Disappearing Act

Mike heimos and students participating in activities





Columbia Water & Light – Education and Outreach Programming

Grades: K to 12

Columbia Water & Light is proud to be a Partner in Education with Columbia Public Schools and to work with many students during the year. Students learn about energy efficiency, safety, and electricity production as well as making smart budgets and exploring careers in engineering and energy. Click here for Water and Light educational programming available to all of our customers and community partners.opens PDF file

students participating in activities

W & L – Suggested Classroom Activities:

See a list of classroom activitiesopens PDF file  

Visit our educational page at

W & L – Videos:

Check out our Youtube channel

For further information on W&L outreach programming contact:

Eric Hemple, Educator 

Email: Eric.Hempel@como.govcreate new email

Phone: 573-874-CITY





Learn more about these classroom activities

plus other AWESOME … COOL educational programs the City offers!

Contact this guy:

Mike Heimos with students

Michael J. Heimos
Office of Sustainability

MS4 Education & Outreach Program
PHONE: 573.817.6447

michael.heimos@como.govcreate new email



Back to Sustainability page