Third graders at Creekside Park Elementary became amateur museum curators Tuesday at the annual Creeksonian Museum event.

There’s a different theme each year. This year’s is “Birds of Fancy.” Students each picked a bird of their choice and learned as much as they could about it. 

They started their research back in January.

The third grade students set up models of the different birds in 12 stations around the school’s gymnasium, each offering something a little different. The kids have “passports” that get stamped at every location.

The gym is full of activities, displays, paper mache birds, bulletin boards, research articles and even a live owl.

“The point is that it's hands-on, thematic construction that everybody gets behind and everybody's jazzed about," said Tim Andrew, the school’s principal.

Third grader Aaron Emery led his kindergartner sister through the Amazon Wonders tent, pointing out which birds were which.

"That's the pygmy owl, that's the harpy eagle," Emery said. "The spectacled owl, and so over here is kingfishers, the macaw, the toucan. That's also the bird of paradise up there."

Now in its fourth year, the Creeksonian Museum is the brainchild of third grade teacher Cindy Rosser. She got the idea from her daughter after the Alaska Museum of Natural History folded. 

"They closed because of lack of funding," Rosser said. "So my family and I were sitting around, moaning over dinner and my adult child said you got to stop complaining and do something about it and she came up with the idea: the Creeksonian Museum."

The event is part of the Common Core standard on learning how to research.

"We teach them how to do slideshows and science projects all about their research and their birds and then we create all of this," Rosser said of the packed gym.

The third-grade class guided the entire school, their parents and special visitors through the displays. Each third grader was individually paired with another student.

Principal Andrew says he hopes it’s something they’ll all remember for the rest of their lives.

"Both the second graders who came in and said, hey, next year, this is going to be me doing this, and the third graders that get to stand up a little bit taller as they are walking through with fifth graders and they’re taking them through the museum and they’re the experts, the third graders are the experts," Andrew said.

Rosser said it costs about $2,000 to put on the event and it couldn’t be done without donations from local groups like the Mountain View Lion’s Club, efforts from the school’s PTA and even people from out of state who contributed money.

"All of this is so that we can reach the different modalities of learning for these children," Rosser said. "We want to encourage curiosity, because if you can encourage curiosity, you can guarantee learning."

Next year’s theme is expected to center around aerospace and involve the Civil Air Patrol.

 

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