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Bessemer middle schoolers try hands at survival skills


March 3, 2020

Submitted photo

Bessemer seventh graders, from left, Zahkira Webster, Connor Johnson, Kris Kirtland and Devin Carlson take a break from building their shelter during a class project at Wolverine Nordic Trails in Ironwood Township.

IRONWOOD TOWNSHIP - Seventh graders from Bessemer's A.D. Johnston Middle School recently attended a snowshoeing and winter survival field trip at Wolverine Nordic Trails in Ironwood Township. 

The field trip was led by Brian Doughty of Michigan Tech as one of MTU's winter field trip offerings. 

The trip began at the chalet where Doughty presented the students with a scenario where the students were on a plane that crashed in Canada during the winter. In the scenario, all of the people on the plane initially survived the crash and students had to prioritize items that were salvaged from the wreck in terms of importance in helping the survivors live long enough to get rescued.

First, students worked independently to make prioritized lists and then the students worked in small groups to discuss and possibly change some of their answers while making a group list, according to Bessemer seventh grade science teacher David Rowe. "After the group work, students compared their lists with the lists made by survival experts."

The students then headed out on the trails to a location where they could build survival shelters.

"While building survival shelters, students were encouraged to try and build a shelter that all group members could utilize to stay out of the wind and keep in the heat," said Rowe. "Students that could find fallen, snow covered trees had the best success at building snow shelters given the limited time of the field trip, but all groups were able to construct shelters that could potentially help protect them from the elements."

After the field trip, students wrote about their experiences. 

Seventh grader Bella Gaiser said, "I learned that when gathering supplies, the most important items were extra clothes, a tarp and matches, and that it is a better idea to stay in the area of the crash and stay calm and work together."  

Attitude and teamwork were also key.

"I learned that in order to survive you have to have a positive attitude," Zahkira Webster said.

"I learned how to work with new classmates," added Kris Kirtland.  

Calli Niemi enjoyed building the shelters and snowshoeing, and "just getting out of school and being in nature is really fun."

As a final thought, Rowe said that, "Getting students outside is always really important and the teamwork component of building survival shelters was very positive," said Rowe. "It is important for students to try new activities because 6 of the 21 students had never been snowshoeing before, but after the outing the students all agreed that they had fun and would like to do it again."

-Daily Globe Staff


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