Locations where our country’s money is printed are few and far between.
But with only 100 miles separating a money printing plant and Ardmore, Oak Hall Episcopal School has taken advantage of its proximity to the plant.
Last Friday, Rommye Vaughn and her third grade class visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, Texas — one of two sites in the country that print money. The trip was Vaughn’s 12th trip to the plant and has become an annual routine.
“I have a money unit in third grade where they learn different types of money, where money came from and the history of our money. All of those different things,” Vaughn said. “Every kid that I’ve had has gone to the bureau.”
The bureau prints billions of dollars each year, which are then delivered to the Federal Reserve System. The plant doesn’t produce coins, only printing Federal Reserve notes. The Fort Worth site and the Washington, D.C., site together produce all of the legal tender in the United States.
Vaughn’s class has been learning about money for the last five weeks. Vaughn said she tries to end each unit with a field trip when applicable and the bureau has always served as the cap to the money unit. With such a close location to the school, she said the bureau serves as the perfect way to wrap up discussions on money.
“I feel like we have that resource and there’s two in the whole country that make our money,” she said. “I feel it’s a very good resource for us to utilize.”
Vaughn’s 10 students described the trip as “a fun learning experience,” noting the puzzles, activities and historical objects present in the plant. The students said watching the money actually being printed and created puts what they had learned into perspective. Vaughn’s students were surprised to learn it takes 10-12 days to make money while learning ways to identify where the money was printed by studying the note.
“Kids learn so much more when they have that hands on experience,” she said. “It’s that ‘Aha’ moment where they get it.”
Vaughn said she tries to take her class on five or six field trips a year, making it a point to allow kids to have the visual learning experience in addition to the in class learning. With all of the build up until the trip to the bureau, Vaughn said that hopefully every method of learning is covered during the course of the unit.
“I try to do a lot of hands on activities with the kids,” Vaughn said. “Because this child over here may get it by just reading it. This child over here has to hear it. This child over here has to actually get their hands on it and physically get their hands on it.
“Every child learns differently. So I try to get an arrange of different activities.”
With more field trips planned later in the year, Vaughn said she hopes to continue to incorporate visual, interactive learning into her class’ educational experience. With students becoming more visual and interactive as media continues to exponentially grow, Vaughn said field trips can serve as the bridge that leads a student to understanding a concept, lesson or idea.
“The field trips help with that because that child that may not have understood what I was talking about in class the field trip may have actually made that more concrete for them,” Vaughn said. “They can get that hands on experience and get to see it in real life.”