“It’s a hands on experience connecting what’s learned in the classroom to real life. Kids are able to touch and see what they’re learning rather than reading it in a book.”
— Stacy Ponikvar, a teacher at East Elementary School, about an overnight field trip for fifth-graders at East and Sunset elementary schools to Yampa River State Park.
Fifth graders of Sunset and East Elementary in Craig spent Thursday and Friday roughing it at Yampa River State Park.
An outdoor education experience, the overnight field trip had students spending two days rotating through seven stations learning about the outdoors.
“There were students who hadn’t ever done anything like this,” said Christy Parrott, library tech for East Elementary. “Some students had to go out and buy sleeping bags.”
Stacy Ponikvar, a teacher at East Elementary, said the field trip meets state science and social study components.
“It’s a hands on experience connecting what’s learned in the classroom to real life,” Ponikvar said. “Kids are able to touch and see what they’re learning rather than reading it in a book.”
With seven stations, including archaeology, animal tracks, geology and wildfire management, students were provided hands-on activities at every station.
Students pressed flowers, handled rocks and fossils, threw a spear (without the spear head), panned for gold and sprayed the hose from the wildfire truck at a lit flare on the ground.
Parrott led the efforts to make the field trip a reality. “
It’s a lot of work, and a lot of teacher’s time,” Parrot said.
She said the trip wouldn’t be possible without the help and time spent volunteered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forrest Service and the State Park, along with parent volunteers.
When asked why it’s important for students to participate in these types of outdoor field trips, Parrott said, “Look where we live. We’ve got to. We hope it instills something in them. A love of the outdoors and an opportunity to get away from the TV.”
Parrott also said she hopes the experience opens doors and gets students thinking about futures they may not have before, such as archaeology and fighting wildfires.
“I hope this trip teaches them to respect the outdoors,” Parrot said.
Jessica Porter, a fifth grader from Sunset elementary, said her favorite part Thursday was spraying the fire hose.
“It was heavy,” Porter giggled.
Stephanie Murr, a teacher at Sunset Elementary, said the field trip was a good opportunity for students of the two schools to mix and meet new people before heading off to middle school together next year.
Thursday night, students would see a presentation on a sloppy hiker who leaves trash and is irresponsible and the ranger who sets her straight, a lesson in astronomy, a barbecue, and watercolor painting.
“We hope it’s a lifelong experience,” Parrott said.
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