Ms. Jeanie Spears, a long-time elementary teacher from Gore, Oklahoma, takes pride in educating her 3rd grade students in Oklahoma Social Studies. For several years, Sheila Shook, the Port Authority’s Workforce & Education Director, has been visiting Gore Elementary to help Ms. Spears teach her students about the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, then they visit the Webber’s Fall Lock & Dam for a tour led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
This year, Ms. Spears took it a step further and brought her 3rd grade students to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa for a tour of the Port! Since the students already knew so much about the Port and the waterway, Sheila planned a hands-on science activity for the students while they were here visiting. They used aluminum foil to “build their barge,” and then they were able to see how many pennies their barge could hold.
Ms. Spears says she teaches about the MKARNS because she knows that having real-world information for her students helps them make connections, helping them to better retain the information over time. The students are also fortunate enough to live right on the MKARNS where they can see barges each day. Ms. Spears believes it is important for her students to learn what the barges are carrying, where they come from, and where they are going.
“I am a teacher that firmly believes we must teach our students about agriculture and where their food and different products come from,” Ms. Spears said. “My students are very fortunate to live where there is agriculture is all around them, as our area produces wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, watermelons, hay, chickens, cattle, and more. I am thankful for Tulsa Ports and the USACE being willing to partner with us to share information about how these products move from one place to another and for helping my students understand what is involved in that process.”
Sheila said that she appreciates teachers like Ms. Spears and school systems like Gore Elementary that understand the importance of hands-on learning and learning about the Ports and waterway here in Oklahoma.
The students had a few things to say about their trips as well!
Kendall: Kendall enjoyed exploring the Charlie Border and learning about the barges. She loved learning how much they can hold and how they stayed afloat instead of sinking.
Maddox: He liked how the barges floated, the water flowed through the river and how the river leveled out after the Lock & Dam. He also enjoyed the “build a barge” experiment with the pennies and aluminum foil.
Genesis: Genesis loved the trip to the Port and learning about the daily operations, and found it especially interesting that 70+ companies are located at the Port. She also loved being able to explore the towboat – and she knows there is a difference between tugboats and towboats!
Gentrie: She loved both trips to the Lock & Dam and the Port. Gentrie learned a lot and is still telling people about her experiences. Her favorite part was going on the towboat, the Charley Border (dry-docked). Her only complaint is that she wished it would have lasted longer!