Area fourth-graders visit Legacy of the Plains for field trip

Lexi Rodriquez places an ear of corn into a kernel removal machine as she learns about old tools used to harvest corn. Fourth graders visited eight stations during their field trip to Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering.

GERING — Area students enjoyed a hands on history field trip Thursday as fourth-graders visited Legacy of the Plains Museum for Tools and Technology Through Time. Fourth graders from Morrill, Geil, Northfield and Lincoln Heights attended the morning session Thursday where they rotated through eight stations around the museum’s property.

Museum director Dave Wolf demonstrated proper roping technique before students tried to rope a steer. As the students get a hands-on experience with tools and technology, Wolf hopes the students get excited about history.

“Since kids aren’t on farms anymore and there has been a big generation separation from them being on farms, we’re hoping they get some resemblance of what it used to be like,” Wolf said. “We hope they get excited about history and dive into it.”

As students practiced their roping techniques, they realized it was hard.

“It was very weird,” said Cooper Robbins. “It’s hard and takes practice.”

Fourth grade teacher Nicholle Lang from Geil Elementary hopes her students learn about how life was for farmers and ranchers.

“I hope they understand what life was like because now they’re into technology and TVs and they really don’t have a good idea of what it took to get to today’s time as far as technology and life,” Lang said.

Lang added the field trip brought back memories when she was a student and visited the museum for Tools and Technology Through Time.

“It’s fun for me to see how they’re learning and understanding this because when I was their age, I didn’t know what this was about,” she said. “Now I know what this is about and they’re learning about. It’s cool to see them learning about what I learned.”

After 20 minutes, the students rotated through the stations with one of the more challenging stations requiring students to pedal to move a tractor. Nine students sat on individual seats as they pedaled around the museum’s parking lot Thursday morning.

“That hurt my legs,” said Nathan Thrash of Lincoln Heights Elementary. “I can’t do that. It’s not like a bicycle.”

Although he said moving the tractor was challenging, the field trip taught him about man power.

“You don’t need gas powered engines to make something move,” Nathan said.

Fellow classmate Harper Fenner also found the station to be a challenge.

“I couldn’t reach the pedals, so I had to stand up,” she said. “But it was fun.”

Lincoln Heights teacher Crystal Patterson has been bringing her classes to the tools and technology field trip for eight years to provide them with a hands-on learning experience.

“I love coming here because the kids get to engage in what we’re learning about in history,” said Patterson.

As the students head back to the classroom, Patterson hopes the field trip helped her students connect the classroom material to the real world.

“It’s not just words on a page,” she said. “It was real life. Kids today need that real life interaction, not just on a page.”

Fourth grader Victoria Valencia-Caldera said the potato slicing station was her favorite station.

“My favorite was the potatoes because we learned about what they used to use,” she said.

Morrill Elementary students Coy Bernhardt and Colby Lucas said the field trip reinforced what they learned in history.

“The activities are going to help us understand when we start learning about Nebraska history,” Coy said.

Colby added, “It’s been fun because we learned about stuff they used back then. They had more hard work back then than we do today because we have tractors and pick up trucks. They had to walk on their feet or use horses.”

The event has been occurring for over 20 years and introduced 640 students to the evolution of blacksmithing, potato harvest, block and tackle, work horses, corn grinding and irrigation.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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