Elementary pupils from 13 school districts in Snohomish County, Wash., are being introduced to their local transportation system, many of them for the first time.
The “Education & Fun Rolled Into One” field-trip program, run by the Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett, Wash., and Everett Transit, helps young people accustomed to riding in cars to consider other ways of getting around.
The two-hour program begins at the newly constructed Everett Station, in downtown Everett, 30 miles north of Seattle. Students arrive on school buses or, when possible, ride transit buses from their schools to the station.
Museum staff educators meet the children, give them a tour of the $45 million transportation and art center, and discuss the importance and convenience of using public transportation.
“The program reinforces the importance of cutting down on transportation congestion, pollution, and the importance of public transportation,” said Sally Evans, the museum’s community-relations spokeswoman.
The program was created to address a local problem—a critical shortage of parking spaces at the museum and in the town itself.
But Everett offers plenty of other ways for residents to get around. Everett Transit operates more than 40 buses, which can transport children to and from Everett’s 19 neighborhoods, all for only 35 cents. The main station also serves as a connection point for regional and national bus lines, Amtrak trains, taxis, and shuttles.
From the station, the students board a transit bus, bound for the Children’s Museum and a tour of its exhibits.
Last school year, the program served more than 500 pupils, according to Ms. Evans. That number is expected to grow dramatically in the coming year, however, thanks to a recent pledge by the Everett City Council to pay the program’s annual $17,500 cost.
Ms. Evans said that the museum now will be able to use its resources to more efficiently market the field trip to educators and principals throughout the county.
Museum officials estimate that as many as 3,000 children could be involved in the program in the coming year.
In 2003, the museum received the Promising Practices award for the program from the New York City-based MetLife Foundation and the Association of Children’s Museums, based in Washington.
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2005 edition of Education Week