The First Graders at South St. Marys Street Elementary School took the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center by “storm” recently when all 95 of them visited on a recent trip to the town known as the “Weather Capital of the World.” The group was the largest that has ever toured the center, and this was the first out of town field trip in the students’ elementary school career.
The first grade teachers knew that a trip to the center would be a great way to reinforce the weather unit the students were currently studying in school. However, on the day of the trip, a snowstorm hit the area, school was cancelled and the trip had to be rescheduled. “The students were very disappointed at first when the trip was cancelled, but it turned into a great teachable moment. Students learned about the power of weather, mans’ inability to control it, and the need to use caution in the event of severe weather” explained Mrs. Heather Kocjancic, the first grade teacher who initially came up with the idea of visiting the center.
The trip was indeed rescheduled, and students and teachers both agreed that it was worth the wait. The weather center offers hands-on learning activities with unique interactive exhibits. Students were able to create thunderstorms, climb into the power of a tornado, feel the effects of lightning and act as TV weather personalities. “I loved it. I learned how the boom comes from thunder, lightning and wind!” said Alexa Craig, a first grader.
Weather concepts weren’t the only important lessons this field trip taught the students. According to Heather Kocjancic, they also learned about generosity. She explained that the class did not initially have the funds necessary to attend the trip to the weather center. “We wanted to go to the weather center, but since this was the first year for the trip, we hadn’t figured it into the budget. The Community Education Center helped us to secure a grant through the weather center for half price admission, and the SSMSES PTO helped my class to organize a letter writing campaign to local companies to raise money for the remaining costs. We received financial support from many local businesses including Comtec Manufacturing, Contact Technologies, GKN, Metco, Northern Tier Settlement Services, Product Assurance, St. Marys Chevy, and St. Marys Insurance. The support was astonishing, and our classes are thankful to these companies for their generosity. We hope to make the trip an annual event, and next year, we intend to plan a way for the students to earn money for the trip while learning business and work skills. It is never too early to start teaching students the importance of hard work.”
Visit www.weatherdiscovery.org to learn more about the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center.