December 25, 2000
Study of Woodinville takes third- graders on a City Hall adventure
by Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
A study of the City of Woodinville may seem more like an adventure than a homework assignment for a third- grade class at East Ridge Elementary.
In a language arts unit on "communities," the students have discovered all kinds of things about Woodinville, from the quality of air in Woodinville to the inner workings of City Hall.
Through writing, science, art, map-making projects and a field trip, teacher Jeanine Carlson wants to bring awareness about Woodinville to her students.
Each student was asked to choose seven out of the 20 possible projects, some required, others optional.
For example, one optional project involved a student interviewing someone who worked in the community.
Another example ‹ a student could write about ways to help the community.
However, all students were required to summarize newspaper articles.
Carlson said the students chose articles from local newspapers, many from the Woodinville Weekly, and wrote on topics, such as winter power blackouts, sports, and a planned youth center.
"I have been thrilled with the quality of their work," Carlson said. She added that the writing projects will help prepare her students next year for the WASL (Washington Assessment Student Learning) tests given to fourth-graders.
The students also created dioramas (a 3-D scene inside a box) of their community. They designed miniature versions of Cottage Lake Park, Woodinville City Hall, downtown Woodinville and local neighborhoods using trees from model train sets or Lego people.
Some trees and people were fashioned out of paper or painted on cardboard. One girl developed a tiny Duvall farm inside a box, complete with blue cellophane for the river. As the students worked on their projects, a parent of one of the students wondered if the students could take their dioramas to City Hall.
The parent called the City's Communications Coordinator, Marie Stake, to ask about it. Together, the parent and Stake got the ball rolling.
Suddenly, all kinds of arrangements were made and Carlson's class was scheduled for a field trip to City Hall. On the field trip the students would have the opportunity to present their dioramas to the City for display and to meet Mayor Randy Ransom.
"Once the students knew it would be on display for the whole community, they felt more pressure to do great work," Carlson said.
In order for the presentation to be held in an orderly and respectful manner, Carlson wanted one of her students to offer a speech.
"I held auditions for the part," she said. Her student, Gracie, won the part, and according to Carlson, her presentation and delivery were exceptional.
As for Mayor Ransom accepting the class projects on behalf of the City, Carlson said, "He was wonderful. He went around to each student and asked about their diorama and shook their hand."
Carlson also added that the students enjoyed touring City Hall, learning about the different departments and what each one does. She said they learned how buildings are made and one City employee showed them blueprints of the lay-out of Woodinville.
The highlight, though, was the trip to the police department. There's nothing quite as exciting for third-graders as lights flashing on top of a police car with the siren screaming to make a field trip one to remember. Jeanine Carlson has taught her unit on communities at Eastridge Elementary for three years now.
"I created it three years ago, my first year of teaching," she said. In that time, she said, she has had a lot of help with the projects. "I feel very supported by my parent community and by the (school's) staff."
And what, you may wonder, did the students learn about Woodinville's air quality? To find the answer, students took two jars and smeared petroleum jelly inside each one. With lids off, they placed one jar outdoors and kept the other indoors. The theory was to see if the jar outside became dirty. If the students lived in a heavily polluted area, it would have.
But in the City of Woodinville, the students didn't see much change in the jar outside and concluded they live in a town with clean air.
To see Ms. Carlson's class projects, the public is welcome to visit City Hall where they will be on display in the foyer until the end of January. Communications Coordinator Stake commented that the dioramas show the students are familiar with downtown.
"I thought it was great that so many of the dioramas were reflective of downtown Woodinville," she said.
Tours of City Hall are offered upon request.