THE DISCOVER AMERICA PROGRAM
Discover America is an exciting community relations program that was developed by United Van Lines to support schools in the Yakima community. The program, designed to bring geography and history to life in the classroom for fourth- and fifth-grade students, has proven to be an rewarding goodwill community program.
With Discover America, students receive firsthand accounts of a moving driver’s trips and use the information to better relate to the textbook curriculum. Meanwhile, teachers are given the opportunity to develop a fresh approach to their daily lessons based on the learning tools provided by the program.
Although the Discover America program was initially established as a way to enhance students’ awareness and understanding of geography, it also helps students develop mathematical skills, strengthen creative writing abilities, build career awareness and learn about safety precautions.
DRIVER DAVE’S CLASSROOM VISIT:
As a key component of the Discover America program, one of our moving drivers, Dave, visits schools to teach about the job responsibilities of a van operator, including the level of training and experience necessary to perform the job. During his visits, he involves each class by asking students about their own moving experiences and facilitating class discussions about safety issues pertaining to students when they walk or ride their bicycles. His interactive classroom demonstrations include packing and wrapping techniques performed on a chair, desk, or even a student with permission.
Then, participating students embark on a tour of our tractors and trailers while learning about their features, including their overall size and weight, fuel tank capacity, accommodations of the cabs, the trailer size in cubic feet and its relation to the average family’s furniture size. After the tour, Dave will provide details about how he will keep in touch and engage with the students throughout the rest of the school year.
HOW IT WORKS
Discover America enables fourth- and fifth-grade students to meet a skilled United van operator and tour his van. By personifying the character, “Driver Dave,” the driver promises to correspond with students and share his experiences as he travels across the country. Each month after Driver Dave’s visit, students receive thought-provoking letters, signed postcards, souvenirs and other materials that highlight the geographical features and historical events of each area he has traveled through. Students will then discuss this information as part of their geography lessons and trace the driver’s route on an interactive map provided by United.
Discover America begins in September every year, when your local United agency sends a moving van driver and another representative to visit the class. After the initial greeting and outlining the program, the driver (known to the class as “Driver Dave”) and the agency representative will teach students about the profession of driving a truck, the perks traveling across the country and the importance of practicing safety near roadways.
CORRESPONDENCE FROM “DRIVER DAVE”
Beginning in October, each classroom receives mailings that contain:
- Letters describing sights along Driver Dave’s route and in his destination city. In these letters, Driver Dave encourages students to solve mathematical problems based on mileage, fuel usage and travel time.
- Pictorial guide books, postcards and other souvenirs that highlight various cities along his route.
- Four times per year, Driver Dave sends a “mystery” postcard from an undisclosed location with clues that challenge students to determine his whereabouts.
- Creates an awareness of United States geography
- Provides relevant geographical and historical information in a unique and captivating manner
- Assists in developing mathematical skills
- Helps foster creative writing skills
- Demonstrates the importance of education as it relates to a career path
- Promotes safety awareness and practices
HOW TO ENROLL IN DISCOVER AMERICA
Your local United agent will provide this program to your school free of charge, as the agency is responsible for enrolling classes with United’s Home Office. All that is needed from your school is the number of fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms that will be participating, the approximate number of students who will be in those classes, the teachers’ names and the principal’s signature on the enrollment form.
The enrollment period lasts through the beginning of September.
It is recommended that you and the United agency agree on a date that “Driver Dave” and another representative from the agency will visit the class to launch the program and facilitate the tour of the moving van. This initial visit should take place by the end of September.
Find out how Discover America can bring a meaningful experience and exciting adventures into your classroom. Visit United’s website to enroll today!
THE DISCOVER AMERICA ROUTE
Throughout the school year, Driver Dave’s journeys will take students to the following locations:
- October: Chicago, IL/St. Louis, MO
- November: Boston, MA/New York, NY
- December: Portland, OR
- January: Denver, CO
- February: Washington, DC
- March: Santa Fe, NM
- April: Charleston, SC
- May: San Francisco, CA