By Ann-Marie Munro, AmeriCorps Member, Lincoln Financial and TJX Companies Supported Team,
Serving at Gossler Park Elementary School
April was an extremely exciting time for the third grade at Gossler Park Elementary School. Weeks of hard work, dedication, and planning culminated in the one-day grand opening of the Gossler Gator Zoo. In the weeks leading up to the opening of the zoo, students engaged in an elaborate project that covered multiple areas of learning. Every student was assigned an animal to become an expert or “zoo keeper” on. They were then each tasked with learning about what their animal eats, what their animal looks like, and where their animal lives. This information was then displayed on a tri-fold for guests of the zoo to view. Students were able to put their creativity to work by creating 3D models of their animals along with habitat enclosure. There were a little over sixty animals from six different biomes for guest to visit and learn about.
In addition to the work they did on their animals, students also worked on different committees to plan out various aspects of the zoo: the concession committee, the children’s committee, the gift shop committee, and the technology committee.
This was a great opportunity for them to experience working on a team. The gift shop committee was tasked with coming up with items that visitors to the zoo could buy. After a lot of thought and deliberation, they decided to make animal print paintings, origami flowers, and origami frog bookmarks for guest to purchase. The concession stand committee was equally as creative in their position to come up with various foods for hungry guest to buy. At the snack shack guest could purchase food items such as monkey tails (cheetos), gold fish, and monkey vines (twizlers). All of the money made at the end of the day went to the Sponsor a Species program at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, which the third grade will be visiting in June.
Words cannot describe how proud and excited I was on the day of the event to see the result of my student’s hard work. As the City Year for all of Gossler Park’s third graders, my role for the day was to circulate between the three third grade classrooms, offering support and encouragement to students as needed. I think my favorite part of the zoo was being able to see students confidently take on the role of zookeepers. It was great to see them excitedly share what they had learned with visitors and special guest such as the mayor and superintendent. The Zoo is one part of my City Year experience that I will never forget.