Brewer 3rd Graders Expand Their Horizons 

A group of 3rd graders in Brewer are taking advantage of modern technology to learn all about the 50 states. The students are using web conferencing to sit in on other third grade classrooms all around the country. Cherrie Macinnes is their teacher at the Washington Street School and she came up with the idea. “So I kind of dreamed up whether we could get in touch with a 3rd grade class in in every state in the United States,” she says, “and it took four weeks of emailing about 5-6 hours a night to all 50 states and we’ve got all 50 lined up.”Now the students get to learn all about these different states from kids their own age that actually live there. Wednesday, they’re chatting with a school in Arizona and they’re finding out all sorts of fun facts. “They only get seven inches of rain per year,” says one 3rd grader here.The web conference sessions last between 20 and 30 minutes. The kids get to ask whatever questions they want of the other students. They also get to answer questions and help third graders from around the country better understand Maine.Bangor Savings bank has donated a new web cam, microphone and projector to the class. The students say this is making learning fun. “well I don’t just like to hear the facts, I like that we get to see their classroom,” says Jon a 3rd grade student at the Washington Street School.His teacher, Mrs. Macinnes says the students have come a long away. “When we first started they wanted to know if Minnesota had electricity, do they talk the same as us, do they have homes like us,” she says, “and meeting them and seeing that they have a lot in common has brought these states closer and I think it’s made them more aware of where they are on the map.”As for the future of this program, Macinnes says she’d like to expand it beyond the borders of the U.S. “We want to take it further,” she says, “we want to take it worldwide.”As for her 3rd grade class they don’t seem to have any objections. “I think it’s just so amazing how we do this.”