The 78 fourth-graders at the Nevada Railroad Museum on Thursday morning were visiting Carson City with an education-advocate and the woman their elementary school is named after: former first lady Sandy Miller.
"This museum has grown, it's changed so much," she said Thursday at the end of a tour, which included a trip through the museum and a ride on a mail car built in 1926 for the Tucson-Corneila and Gila Bay Railroad in Arizona. "They've introduced more attractions. It seems like there is much more."
Nine-year-old Sonia Castro was most impressed by museum volunteer Rich Courtney's statement that the pointed metal portion attached to the lower front of the train engine, called a "cow catcher," was developed to push livestock and carts off the railways.
"The cowcatcher," she wrote in her journal, "is for moving cows out of the way."
The students, from the Sandy Searles Miller Academy of International Studies, took pictures on the bus ride up on Wednesday, visited the Legislature and Brewery Arts Center Thursday, and will tour Virginia City today before heading home.
They are from a Clark County School District magnet school that opened last year and offers labs in geology, Spanish, archeology and astronomy, among others. In the school's astronomy lab, for example, students can see how the stars look to people from any country in the world.
"I like our school better than my old one because it is challenging," said Hye-Young Seok, 10. "The math is harder. The spelling is harder."
The school has an enrollment of 560 students, and takes 25 percent of students from within its boundaries and the others from a random selection of applicants.
"The curriculum is rigorous," said Principal Anne Grisham. "It's engaging. It's inquiry-based. We want the kids to be problem-solvers and learn to be open minded."
Many of the elementary school students spent their first night in a hotel without their parents.
For Miller, who lived in the area for a decade while her husband Bob was governor, seeing old sites warmed her heart. For the students from her school, it was an up-close look at state history.
- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.