As part of learning about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 during project week, three different groups had a field education experience at Fire Station 22. Because field education at St. James is thoughtfully chosen and relates to standards, curriculum and the students’ interests the same visit resulted in different experiences for each grade level.


Three Half-Day Pre-Kindergarten, Lynda Adams

The students in our three half-day pre-kindergarten class visited the Chicago Fire Department Station 22 this past Friday. While this may seem like a nice little trip for the children, it was actually focused on gathering research for our project this week. The students wanted to recreate a fire station in our classroom, complete with fire trucks. So to do this, students were given this hands on field education experience. The goal of this trip was to closely examine the parts of a fire truck as research for creating our own authentic fire truck models back at school. Students read books about fire trucks before the trip and created the cardboard box shell of the firetrucks. While at the fire station, children closely examined the exterior and interior of the fire truck. As they noticed components of the truck, we took photos of them for use back in our classroom. Students then created a list of things that needed to be added to the truck. This list included items such as gauges, a flag decal, brake and hazard lights, the CFD logo and pedals to name just a few. Students selected an element or elements of the truck to work on and using the photos taken on our field experience, the children created elements and added them to our fire truck.

First and Second Grade, Lora Webster and Kristina Kaldis

First and second grade students visited the fire station first thing on Monday morning. The goal was to build students’ schema about modern day firefighting techniques so that they could begin to understand how lack of equipment and resources in 1871 effected the scale of the Great Fire. We saw the truck, the protective suits, the hoses, the hazmat vehicle, and many other items that would not have been available in 1871. We learned about the different jobs people in a fire house can have: fire investigator, paramedic, firefighter, etc. We also saw the human side of firefighters, as we toured their eating and sleeping areas. The students had many questions for fireman Lou, and he did a great job of showing us what the job of a modern firefighter looks like. Throughout the week, we have referenced this field education experience when learning about the Great Chicago Fire.

Third and Fourth Grade, Stephanie Bending and Kaitlyn Gardner

The students in third and fourth grade visited Fire Station 22 on Thursday, November 19. Our focus was to compare and contrast the equipment we have today, to the equipment fire fighters had in 1871. Students read several books, and completed Venn Diagrams, to analyze the similarities and differences. Third and fourth grade groups were able to pick their own topic and project, and several groups were interested in the equipment used then and now. One group chose to build a model based on research they collected about what fire stations and equipment were like in 1871. Students were given the opportunity to explore and ask questions about the equipment at Fire Station 22. They found it particularly interesting that there are large tubes suspended from the ceiling that collect exhaust from the trucks so that the fireman do not have to breathe in the exhaust.   Students will use the knowledge they acquired during our field education experience to aid in their presentations about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

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