4th grade students at Woodbrook Elementary recently completed their Nebraska History unit in social studies with a final project of creating a covered wagon to determine its ability to ford a river.

According to Ms. Grieb, “It’s been a long-standing tradition as part of the 4th grade curriculum to learn about pioneers who traveled across Nebraska on the Oregon Trail. This covered wagon project helps students understand and appreciate all of the work pioneers had to go through to take only the necessities with them in wagons across the country. This hands-on learning opportunity gives students the chance to problem solve, design, test, and demonstrate their hard work in a creative way.”

As part of the project, students were given two weeks to create a covered wagon made of recycled materials that could have a base no larger than 4×6 and had to include 4 wheels and a cover.  Students were encouraged to test their creations at home prior to the classroom evaluation to problem-solve and make necessary adjustments to ensure the capabilities of their wagon.  Once created, students were allowed to use only wind power to float their wagon down the river just like the Oregon Trail pioneers they learned about in their lessons.  Then, with classmates cheering them on, each student’s wagon was floated down the river, successfully completing its journey and ending lessons on a much-enjoyed topic for all.