FORT SCOTT — Elementary students from throughout southeast Kansas got a glimpse of what life was like during the 1800s this week.

The student field trip began at about 9:45 a.m. Friday at Fort Scott National Historic Site. With Fort Scott High School students serving as site instructors dressed as villagers and Civil War-era soldiers, each elementary group visited seven of the site’s twelve stations.

“We don’t get a lot of social studies time at school because we have a STEM focus at George Nettels, which is awesome,” Kelsey Hotchkiss, a third grade teacher at George Nettels Elementary, said. “The get a lot of science, and we get a ton of reading and math, but opportunities like this where they get to totally focus on history and learn from it is really impactful to these kids.”

Hotchkiss, who attended this program last year, touted this event as a an educational experience for teachers, too.

“One of my favorite things is the leisurely game station where they children get to see how children entertained themselves during the war,” she said. “It’s fascinating because our kids, who have had electronics since they were born, do not really have a concept of that.”

The teacher said she was surprised the first time she saw her students having as much fun as they had with sticks and rocks, despite growing up with technology.

“I spent six years teaching at another amazing district and I feel really fortunate to have worked for two great places, but in Pittsburg, they don’t put a limit on field trips and experiences we can do with our students outside,” Hotchkiss said. “That’s not something I had previously experienced so I think that’s incredible for kids.”

Hotchkiss discussed the long-term educational benefits the students will receive from this experience.

“When we go back to reflect and write about our time here, they will remember getting to see a live horse and guy fighting a mock battle,” she said. “This is so insightful for the kids to get to see it up close and personal, and I think it really cements their learning so I’m thankful we have these opportunities.”

Ellie Carper, a third grade student at George Nettels Elementary, complimented the variety of things to see at the site.

“The most fun part is when we got to see the horse and got to learn about how it was back whenever they were in the army, what they used for practice, and where they slept,” Carper said. “I’m excited to see the guns because it’s really fun to see how things like that worked back then.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at