The Great Race. Fourth Graders Dive In and Learn about US Regions, Mapping, Trip Planning

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FMS 4th Grade Great Race Travelers/Researchers

This spring a group of fourth grade students from Founders Memorial School participated in the “Great Race”, a multidisciplinary activity involving the researching and planning of a road trip with visits to 14 Natural Wonder sites across the United States.

Fourteen elementary classrooms from across the country participated in this virtual race, planning all the travel details from site to site, starting in Miami, FL and ending in San Diego, CA including visits to 14 natural wonders in the USA.  The natural wonders included Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Crater Lake, Grand Prismatic Spring, Devil’s Tower, Everglades, Death Valley (Racetrack Playa), Redwood Forest, Mammoth Cave, Arches National Park, Blue Ridge Natural Bridge, Glacier National Park, Indiana Sand Dunes and the Badlands.

The students worked in both large and small groups, studying the US maps, highway maps, train and bus routes to plan their travel by bus, train or car (air was not an option) and recording the local weather.  They calculated costs for car rentals, tickets, hotels, mileage, gas efficiency, fuel, and related expenses.  There was a specific set of rules and parameters to follow  so that all 14 groups were using the same tools/parameters to plan their trip.. The students tracked their progress, expenses and timing on an Overview/Route sheet, visible through this QR code.

The goal was to create an itinerary from start to finish in the least amount of time for the least amount of money, beginning on a set date and recording the trip day by day from that point..  The trip was evaluated by Katrina Moore, the lead teacher in this project from Lisbon, Ohio.   She held three live video Hangout sessions with multiple classrooms contemporaneously for question/answer sessions, to touch base, and announce the overall winner.

FMS entered two separate fourth grade teams in the Great Race, the Green Mountain Travelers and the VT Road Runners, comprising approximately 40 students in total.  Of the 14 classrooms participating nationwide, only 8 finished the race.  The final results?  While the overall winner was a group from Ohio, our Green Mountain Travelers (from Powell/White classrooms) took second place.  The VT Road Runners (from Dorfman/Arthur/Gorman classrooms) took third place.

FMS will celebrate this amazing extra effort with an ice cream party donated by Ben & Jerry’s.

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