A potato is the star of the school bus training

23 third graders from the German city of Gera gained some important experience during their school bus training. Because it's only by recognising the dangers and their consequences that we learn to behave correctly.

Have you ever tried to mash a raw potato with your hand? 23 children from class 3b of the Erich-Kästner primary school in Jena attempt to do so, squeeze as hard as they can and try everything - but in the end they have to give up. Just like the adults. The little tuber wins the showdown and is the big star of the school bus training session. But its most important performance comes afterwards. Because when the potato is placed in front of the wheel of a bus and the bus drives over it, there is sheer amazement. The potato is reduced to nothing more than mush. The approximately four tonnes of weight per wheel crushed the potato effortlessly. And that's exactly what would happen with a foot that accidentally got under a tyre. It's an impressive sight, and it has the desired effect. The girls and boys are impressed and now know exactly why it's best to keep a metre away from the kerb when the bus approaches the stop. "This experiment was very popular that day," says class teacher Grit Messerschmidt, "but there were many other highlights, too."

After school closures, alternate-day teaching and home schooling due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school bus training is a welcome diversion for both children and teacher. At last they are learning together in the classroom and having lots of fun at the same time. The aim of the school bus training conducted by OMNIplus is to make primary school children aware of possible dangers when using buses. After all, bus travel is one of the safest modes of transport, but only those who are aware of possible dangers will behave correctly. The most important learning content therefore includes not only how to behave at the bus stop, but also how to get on, how to behave while on the bus and how to get off.

The school bus training in Gera

The potato is nothing more than mush - and there is great respect for the bus as it pulls in
What happens if you get your foot trapped in the door?
The children learn why the blind spot is so dangerous
Fun while you learn: the 23 pupils will not forget this day in a hurry

The "flying" school bag

The absolute highlight of the training is the braking test. Attention, action. Because what happens to an incorrectly placed school bag in the event of an emergency stop? Even at just 30 km/h, a bag standing in the aisle flies through the bus in a high arc. "Wow!"  "I'd never have thought that." The pupils have been warned – and are amazed. Correct behaviour in this case is so simple. Nothing happens if the bag is in front of the seat or between the legs. The same thing could happen to the children. Holding on while standing and looking in the direction of travel if possible are therefore other important tips. Those who do not adhere to this are also allowed to be shaken about on this day for test purposes and then have an exact idea of what would happen if, for example, they were also holding an ice cream in their hand. The children also learn about the functions of the emergency hammer, the folding ramp and the anti-trap safeguard on the rear door. One of the pupils plays the "stunt girl" and is allowed to get her leg caught in the door on purpose. Anxious looks. Then the confirmation: "It doesn't hurt at all." An experience that the children will certainly not want to repeat when using the school bus in future. But it's good to know that the bus has a safety feature like this.

School bus training stays in the memory

It's the many little "light-bulb moments" that ensure that the children will remember this training for a long time to come. And that is precisely the aim - to present the dangers in such a way that they become apparent. "It was a great day. A lot of the learning content, such as that involving the blind spot, will also help us with the upcoming bicycle training," says Messerschmidt. For the demonstration, the children are allowed to sit in the driver's seat. In the kerbside exterior mirror, they can see their classmates standing waiting for the bus. Or maybe not. Depending on where they are standing, they are practically "invisible" to the driver. The children go home having learned a lot - and quite a few will probably press a potato into their parents' hands when they get there ...

If you'd also like to take part in school bus training with your class, please register here by email.