Olivia Tidlow-Tranel invites passersby into the students’ exhibit. PHOTOS BY DAN FOX

Fourth grade class spends day on Broadway to teach science to tourists


To cement concepts recently learned and put information into practice, the Skagway School’s fourth-grade class took a field trip to Broadway during a busy day to teach tourists about Alaskan wildlife.

“We just finished up our plant and animal unit, and this is a way to apply all the stuff that we learned in a local way,” fourth-grade teacher Danielle McManus said.

Students spent a good few hours on a rare sunny afternoon flagging down passersby, showing off models of animals that they had sculpted and citing various facts and informational tidbits about their chosen critter. The plants and animal unit was the student’s first course of the new school year, McManus said, and the kids dove right into the science materials. In addition to classroom instruction, the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council helped to teach the students about salmon fertilization and a local biologist taught the students more about local plants.

As part of their plants and animal unit, the students chose one animal, researched it’s characteristics, wrote an informative paper and sculpted a model.

Fourth-grader Rosetta Pring picked the beaver, and said she learned that a beaver’s teeth don’t stop growing. Rather, their front teeth just get filed down as the flat-tailed mammals chew on wood.

“I had a lot of fun making the animal, like out of clay,” Pring said.

Lucy Kollasch’s animal was the snowshoe hare. This furry little mammal changes the color of its coat, Kollasch said, going from a snow-white coat in the winter to a brown coat in the summertime.

The fourth-graders got to practice their presentations to other students, and to the School Board as well, before they set up at the National Park Service Native Plants Garden on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Having her students become the instructors and interact with tourists provides several benefits, McManus said.

“The more they can tell, the better they are going to really learn it,” McManus said.

“This project, I really wanted to bring the public into it, really, and have these kids be presenting to people, because that really drives their learning. If they are able to share what they learned with people, it’s going to be a more meaningful experience.”