Standing on a lazy river running under one of Madison County’s famous bridges, most folks wouldn’t think of water as a powerful force that shaped Iowa’s Southern Drift Plain into the unique area it is today. In this area, visitors will experience the transformative effects water has had on this area, connecting ancient oceans and early animals to the mighty rock faces of the Devil’s backbone and massive glacial melts to the rich river ecosystems of today. Visitors get hands-on with the border between land and water and the plants and animals that live there.

Lessons to Include:

  • Water in ancient times: limestone and glaciers.
  • Water as Geology: the melting of the Des Moines Lobe and the role of water in the settling of glacial drift; how rivers eroded lands, exposing bedrock.
  • Water as Habitat: what animals live in and along the water and how to find them; local fossils indicate some of Earth’s first amphibians were here; water as human habitat and resource.

This built-in aquarium will demonstrate the inner workings of an aquatic community and enhance ecology lessons by providing a working example of an aquatic ecosystem.