All Aboard Students Learn Teamwork

July 01, 2007

It's a lesson in delayed gratification, an application of creativity, and a workshop in teamwork and leadership.

Eighth-graders at Buena Vista Elementary School in Auburn, Wash., were all onboard with a quarter-long railroad construction project. Twenty students built an H-O scale structure around their classroom and spent 600 man-hours constructing track, assembling residential, commercial and industrial buildings, and painstakingly adding the details to make the set-up look authentic.

"It is great fun for the students to create the whole thing and see what can be accomplished as a team," said teacher Scott Spies. "There's no better way to learn."

Students crafted résumés, interviewed for the railroad jobs, earned "money," and maintained a "bank account." They spelled railroad-related words; applied math concepts; researched black powder, nitroglycerin, and granite; and learned the history of the transcontinental railroad.

As a result of interviewing for her railroad foreman job, Emily Fletcher was ready, with résumé in hand, for a real job interview. "I had two interviews in one week," she said.

Already, kids in the lower grades are anticipating their train-building turn. Kyle Bahnsen has these words of advice: "Pay attention to detail. It's worth the time."