by Debbie Griffin
Third-grade students at Westwood Elementary in Zimmerman reported to the parking lot May 29 for a hands-on lesson from several area professionals and the big vehicles they use for work.
The annual Vehicle Fair featured a combination plow-dump truck, street sweeper machine, front-end loader and “sewer sucker” truck from the city, plus a fire engine and six-wheeled all-terrain vehicle from the Zimmerman-Livonia Fire Department, a patrol car from the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Department, a utility truck from Connexus Energy, a work vehicle from CenterPoint Energy, and an 18-wheeled big rig with a flatbed trailer from the Zimmerman-based Da-Ran Inc. trucking.
Children came to the fair in groups and learned about how each vehicle is used. They also got to tour each one – climb in, sit in the seat and get in the bucket of the front-end loader and utility truck. They watched as firefighters demonstrated the high-pressure hose and listened to the sheriff’s deputy explain what the patrol car contains.
Students seemed interested in the deputy’s stun gun and wanted to sit in the car’s containment area in back, which had bars to protect the windows. Many kids asked to be lifted up in the big buckets or to honk the trucks’ horns. They liked all the buttons in the semitrailer cab and were surprised to see “there’s a bed in there!”
The kids rotated among the stations, where they also learned about safety, such as the CenterPoint representative explaining natural gas. Retired school counselor Louise Kuester said she’s been organizing the annual event since 2001, but the Vehicle Fair started before that. The big visuals grab students’ attention and give them a fun way to learn, she said.