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Learning Comes Alive on Sixth Grade’s Spring Trip

By: Sixth Grade Teachers Debbie Brummit and Jim Holmes

May 8, 2017

It is a true blessing to bring classroom learning alive for students. Rossman School does this each spring with the sixth graders on a four-day, three-night field trip. This is often referred to as the “Space Camp Trip” as the bulk of our trip is spent in Huntsville, Alabama, but the reality is, we also experience a whole lot more!

This year the trip began on Tuesday, April 18. All students arrived at school, loaded their luggage and hopped on the bus. By Tuesday afternoon, we were at the Shiloh National Battlefield in Tennessee. When we arrived, Ranger Charlie greeted us. Ranger Charlie looked as though he was ready for battle as he was donning a Union Soldier’s military uniform. With a fantastic presentation about the hardships of battle, he demonstrated the laborious procedure of shooting a Civil War musket. After learning about this war in class, it was fantastic to see the live procedure and truly understand the undertaking these soldiers endured. Imagining the battles taking place on the actual ground where they had happened made those lessons from the classroom come alive as we toured the expansive battleground.

The students had the opportunity to sit in a replica of a church from the time period, and they listened to Ranger Charlie as he described what the congregation may have felt as battle loomed nearby. We also visited “Bloody Pond” and Pittsburgh Landing along the Tennessee River. In reflecting on the stop at Shiloh sixth grade student, CJ, wrote:

“I would definitely give this trip a five star rating - to hear about Shiloh is one thing, but to experience it and to actually see it is another.”

The learning continued Wednesday morning with a stop at Ivy Green, the birthplace and homestead of Helen Keller. After reading, “The Miracle Worker” by playwright William Gibson, the setting of the play became real. The Ivy Green Homestead is a beautiful place, which has much of the original furniture and even silver preserved for tours and visitors. The kids were enthralled to hear that some of these items were over 200 years old. As the students walked to the back of the home, their eyes lit up as they spotted the actual water pump where the miracle occurred. After much work with her teacher Annie Sullivan, Helen uttered her first word, “Wawa” a feat unthinkable at the time for a child who was both deaf and blind. This was a moment the students will not forget. In fact, Aziz wrote:

“…another amazing part of the Keller backyard was the pump where Helen Keller learned what water was and how to say it. We even were able to take a picture with it and touch it!"

At this point in the trip, the students hopped back on the bus and we zoomed off to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. When we arrived, the Rossman sixth graders were split into two teams, Team Vega and Team Arcturus, two stars in the galaxy. After orientation, we entered the camp and the students’ jaws dropped as they gazed up at the full sized rockets: the V-2, the Saturn 1B, and the Saturn V. The students participated in simulations and mini-lectures where they learned information about space exploration and life in space.

The greatest challenge our students encountered at Space Camp was the Mission. Each team performed a simulated mission where they were given roles as if they were part of a space crew. Some students were in Mission Control, some students were on the International Space Station, and some students were in the orbiter, while others actually performed an EVA, extravehicular activity, better known as a spacewalk. In these missions, it was essential for the teams to work together and communicate well. Both Vega and Arcturus successfully landed their missions, with the entire team arriving safely. The counselors told Team Arcturus that they scored a 100% on their mission, not bad for a first time through!

On Thursday evening, the students participated in a “Space Bowl” which is a competition among all the teams at space camp. This competition tests the kids’ knowledge about space missions and rockets. We are excited to say that our teams finished in the top. We are even more excited to announce that Team Vega was awarded the first place prize for their demonstration of knowledge. Congratulations Team Vega!

Rossman Team Arcturus won first place in a different competition. They brought home the bragging rights for the best creation of the Mission Patch. This is another camp-wide competition where the students design and draw a patch that describes them as a team. Their patch included the 2017 Sixth grade motto, “Don’t tell us the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon!” All of our Rossman students sure lived up to the motto this week at space camp with their attitudes, knowledge and successes.

The students left space camp exhausted and accomplished, but they were not finished yet. The sixth grade curriculum includes the Civil Rights Movement; therefore, we stopped at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The museum is built into the Lorraine Motel, the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The museum is moving and very well done. Katie K. wrote:

“The Civil Rights museum was very interesting, and I found it sad, yet something I had to see. It was hard to believe that I was standing in the very same spot as MLK when he was shot, and it meant a lot to me to have the opportunity to go there.”

Although exhausted upon the return, (It is difficult to believe we did all of that in four short days) students and teachers returned satisfied and full of memories and learning to last a lifetime. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.” The students are armed with new knowledge and a clearer understanding of prior knowledge, and we believe our students can and will become positive leaders in our world.

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