Olmsted Island Scavenger Hunt: Elementary

Students watching Great Falls from the overlook
Students at Great Falls Overlook



Olmsted Island Scavenger Hunt - Elementary


In this program, students will hike from the Washington Aqueduct to Olmstead Island/Potomac Gorge Overlook. Along the way, students will participate in a scavenger hunt and compose a poem.

Students may not realize that there are clues around them in the natural world that can be used to determine what has happened in the past and predict what may happen in the future. During the activity, students will observe water levels, plant growth, and identify evidence of flooding.

At the end of the activity, students will be able to…

1.Discuss diversity of animals and plants in different habitats.

2.Use evidence observed to make predictions and draw conclusions.

3.Determine how the natural features of the area influenced human ingenuity and invention.

The C&O has partnered with Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools to develop this field trip day along with pre- and post-visit activities for your classroom. Completing the classroom activities will enhance student learning. The lessons include a mapping project, a critical thinking activity, a reader's theater, and several math and estimation activities. See Appendix A or our website for curriculum materials.

Location: Great Falls Tavern/Olmsted Island

Length: 1 hour

Cost: $5 per person

Activity Itinerary

Students will hike from the Washington Aqueduct to Olmstead Island/Potomac Gorge Overlook.

At the aqueduct, students will learn about the Potomac Watershed, and learn some geography about the Potomac River. They will learn about how the water they see here goes into DC and becomes drinking water. Students will then hike down the flat towpath (about a quarter of a mile) to the Olmsted Island trail head. They will get a safety message from Rangers about walking in twos and being respectful of other guests on the trail. They are also advised to stay on the boardwalk. Students will the hike out to the Great Falls Gorge Overlook (about a quarter of a mile) where they will observe the Falls and learn about how it led to the creation of the Canal. During the hike, students are encouraged to mark off observations on their scavenger hunt cards and Rangers will point out interesting landmarks. After viewing the Falls, students will then be instructed to write a "senses" poem, either individually or in partners, about the nature, wildlife, and scenery that they have seen on their hike. To wrap up, students will hike back to the towpath and the Tavern.

Plan Your Visit

A Plan your Visit Guide including your itinerary, pre- and post-visit activity worksheets, vocabulary, and safety reminders is available if you want more information. To get a Plan your Visit Guide or to schedule a field trip, e-mail us.


Canal Classrooms Rangers

Email us at cocanaleducation@nps.gov

Phone: 301-714-2213

Last updated: January 4, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740



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