Natural Wonders Through the Eyes of Hillcrest Elementary Students

Assistant Principal Peter Schmidt casts his vote as fourth-graders Erin Kreis and Sophie Brooks supervise the voting for the 7 Natural Wonders.

What do Angel Falls, the Amazon Rainforest and the Bay of Fundy have in common? Well, if you asked fourth-grade students at Hillcrest Elementary School in Catonsville, they would say everything.

 As the final step in a four-week "Seven Natural Wonders Project," and after much Internet research on the Seven Natural Wonders website, Hillcrest students had the opportunity to select their favorite natural wonder. The voting was held for the entire student body at Hillcrest Elementary School. Each morning during the two weeks of voting, several fourth-grade students informed the students of several natural wonders during the morning announcements to help them make a more intelligent vote.

Thus the top three winners in the school’s project: third place went to the Bay of Fundy in Canada; second place was the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil; and the first most favorite natural wonder was . . . well, it was a tie: Angel Falls in Venezuela and Jeju Island in South Korea.

The project, which had children learning about the wonders of the world, is part of a project of the New 7Wonders Foundation. Started by filmmaker Bernard Weber, the foundation seeks to increase knowledge and appreciation for the world’s wonders through an international competition. Participants choose from among 261 qualified “nominees” of natural wonders from 222 nations. By November 2011, seven natural wonders will be selected by the Foundation.

To mirror this international competition, Hillcrest students participated in voting for their favorite natural wonder. Students in each grade made their selections by choosing from a student-made poster and casting their ballots. Each morning before the actual votes were tallied, students from the fourth grade spoke about a natural wonder over the PA system to help the voters become better informed.

One of those fourth graders, Erin Kreis, coordinated the teams of fourth graders for morning announcements. “It was fun to learn about the different places,” she said. “I enjoyed working on the voting box and counting the votes. It was fun working with partners and learning how our home is different than other places.”

Through this project, who knows how many environmentalists and international travelers have been made of students at Hillcrest. With the world literally at their fingertips, let’s see what the future holds.

Story and photos by Georgette Ortiz, library media specialist at Hillcrest Elementary School.   
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