State educators are bringing bits of the Utah Museum of Natural History to students who can't travel to Utah's capital city to see it in person.
Through the Museum on the Move Program, fourth-graders across the state are learning a variety facts about animals, plants, insects and ecosystems in Utah.For instance, did you know a handful of salt from the Great Salt Lake will dissolve in vinegar? Or that eggs from brine shrimp in the same lake are shipped to Asia to be hatched for lobster food?
"It's better than the normal classroom experience," said program coordinator Chuck Wayland. "They (the students) get hands-on as well as group experience and they practice reading and leadership skills."
The 2-year-old program, funded by the Utah State Office of Education, was brought last year to more than 40 schools from St. George to northern Logan. The goal is to reach fourth-graders in all 40 school districts over the next three years.
The program targets fourth-grade students because the state's science curriculum for that level focuses on Utah's natural history. Teachers choose from 10 different teaching kits, which Wayland brings to the schools along with a short introductory discussion.
At Provost Elementary School in Provo, teacher Layne Reinwand's class rotated through five stations. Students could match pictures of plants and animals to the proper habitat around the Great Salt Lake, or learn that a golf ball will sink in fresh water but floats in water from the lake.
"Kids always like something that's active and involved. The more visual it is, the more learning goes on," said Reinwand as she helped students examine a container of brine shrimp eggs.
At the end of each workshop, Wayland leaves the students with a bookmark and free pass to visit the Utah Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah.
"The feedback on the program has been extremely positive," he said. "The teachers love it and the kids are having a good time learning. I can't think of a better combination."