First-grade class in Mitchell wants to name a snowplow Frosty; Teacher says contest provides real-life learning for students Original

Madline Millar’s first grade class at Gertie Belle Rogers elementary in Mitchell, S.D., used the SDDOT’s name the snowplow contest as a real life learning experience. Photo courtesy of Madeline Millar.

MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — A first grade class in Mitchell has a message for the South Dakota Department of Transportation: Choose Frosty as the name of one of the 12 snowplows across the state.

The SDDOT’s contest to name a snowplow in each of the 12 DOT districts in the state turned into a math, statistics and civics lesson for the students in Madeline Millar’s first grade class at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary School in Mitchell.

“I really like to take real-life situations and bring them into the classroom for a learning experience,” Millar said.

Students have been making graphs and reading data in math. “This would be a fun way to bring something real life and make a graph,” Millar said. “When they make their own graph they are able to understand them better…”

Millar had students choose names, vote on those names and make graphs to track the voting and final count.

Millar said she was a little surprised that her students knew so much about snowplows. She thought maybe she would need to explain it.

“They instantly knew what is was. I’m sure they have seen them all over town,” Millar said.

Students talked about what they knew about snowplows.

“They had so many stories,” Millar said. Stories including following a snowplow on the way to school or snowplows piling up snow at the end of their driveway.

So when students shared stories, Millar asked them to think of more details.

“You’ve seen a snowplow, what do you see when they do that…,” Millar said.

“They made a lot of really cool connections with snowplows,” Millar said.

One student share about how a dad had to drive a snowplow in the middle of the night, and the class talked about what they see at night, Millar said. That’s how the class came up with the name Star.

The first grade discussions about snowplows are an example of why the SDDOT started the name the snowplow contest, said Jason Humphrey, an engineer in the Pierre region. Contest information is on the SDDOT website.

Snowplow operators often report incidents of distracted drivers and close calls during the winter, so SDDOT wanted to make the public more aware of snowplows through the name contest, Humphrey said.

“I would like to encourage people in both of these areas to engage with the SDDOT, have some fun naming our plows, and ultimately help bring awareness to our plow operators who work hard every day to create a safe driving environment for our citizens,” Humphrey said.

Millar’s class came up with about 20 names.

“Some were incredibly silly; some made some sense,” Millar said.

The class narrowed the list to Star, Frosty, Snowflake and Burt.

“Someone requested Burt and it stuck,” Millar said.

The students created graphs to track the progress of voting on the names. Millar said she talked about how students shouldn’t vote for a name just because it was the most popular one in the classroom.

“We really talked about being an individual. If you don’t want Frosty, just because your best friend voted for Frosty doesn’t mean you have to,” Millar said. “If you like Star better, for example, you can vote for Star, it doesn’t matter, maybe it will come back. Maybe someone else will vote for Star and we will have a close race.”

“I’m actually really proud of them. They really enjoyed being able to give their own opinion,”Millar said.

While Burt received three votes, students were proud that classmates voted for the name Burt, she said.

The students know that the SDDOT will be voting on the names for snowplows so they’ve been able to connect that what happened in the classroom has ties to something outside of it, she said.

Millar said they’ve been telling students and teachers in the school to also vote for Frosty.

“It would be awesome if we got it,” Millar said.

As of Jan. 21, the SDDOT had received 710 names, said Julie Stevenson, the strategic communications coordinator for the DOT.

“Some people have had fun playing with song lyrics such as the Gritsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Anti-Slip Machiney,” Stevenson said.

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