Models Column

March 14, 1984 2 min read

“Hands-on learning” has taken on a new meaning in Minnesota, where students in kindergarten through 6th grade will learn about environmental education next fall through a new soil-conservation curriculum. Sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Rural Development, the curriculum is the first of its kind in the United States for elementary-school children, according to John Miller, an environmental-education specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education.

Four hundred teachers throughout the state are participating in workshops to learn how to teach about soil erosion and protection. “Being an important agricultural state as we are, we feel it’s something that’s long overdue,” Mr. Miller said.

The department is considering using high-school vocational students studying agriculture to help teach the material to elementary-school students. Mr. Miller said he hopes the project will be used at the secondary-school level as well.

Airplane strobe lights have been attached to school buses in eight Alaska school districts in a pilot project to prevent automobile drivers from passing buses unlawfully.

The lights, purchased for $150 each by the state department of education, are mounted on the “stop arms” on the left side of the buses. They flash along with the other red lights, cautioning drivers to stop while a bus is loading and unloading children, according to Penny Little, school-bus coordinator for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The strobe lights have been found to be more visible than the standard school-bus red lights, which are sometimes difficult to see during the day.

Pending further study by bus-company contractors, a decision will be made on whether to purchase additional lights for other district buses, Ms. Little said.

Junior historians in New Jersey are researching their towns’ main streets to document their history. The project, part of the New Jersey Historical Society’s Jerseymen Historical Club Association, teaches 4th through 12th graders how to study city-hall records, visit local libraries, and interview town residents to find out about their communities, according to Elaine Fay, director of education for the society.

The clubs, which operate through schools and community organizations, have 1,200 student members in 70 chapters in the state.

Once the students have completed their research, they will write scripts for a 15-minute video production documenting the history of their town’s main street. At festivals in the coming year, the films will be judged, and the 10 top selections will become part of a mini-series called “Main Street New Jersey” that Ms. Faye said she hopes will air on New Jersey public television.

For more information on the junior historical clubs, write to Elaine Fay, New Jersey Historical Society, Education Department, 230 Broadway, Newark, N.J. 07104, or call (201) 483-3939.--ab

A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 1984 edition of Education Week as Models Column