People Are Remembering The Weird Little Facts They Learned In Elementary School

Elementary school memories are among the first for many people. It's hard to forget some of the quirkier parts of our educational pasts. As odd as they may be, they bond us to others who went through the same schools at the same time.

elementary school classroom
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We asked the BuzzFeed Community all about the weird things they learned about in elementary school.

1."High school health class included the opportunity to get your boating license at no cost. I'm from Michigan and there's a ton of lakes, so it was probably a basic safety precaution(?)"

boats sailing on a lake

"Still makes my public high school sound extra bougie whenever I mention this to people."


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2."In my area outside of Philadelphia, we had to watch the Voyage of the Mimi (one of Ben Affleck’s first roles) and then went to a local Seaport Museum to see the captain/grandpa character speak. I couldn’t tell you why we learned it, but everyone I talk to in my district around my age also watched it in 4th Grade."

ben affleck in voyage of the mimi

3."I learned everything about the Erie Canal. Even had to do a concert about it. Central New Yorkers know every inch of the way from Albany to Buffalo."

Erie Canal aerial shot
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4."We learned a lot of really specific stuff in Louisiana. There’s the obvious — if you run from an alligator, you should run in a zig-zag because they can’t make sharp turns very well."

alligator in a louisiana swamp

"But we also learned a whole lot about the different groups who settled in LA. Like, I was surprised that most people don’t know about the Acadians or the difference between Creole and Cajun people, or that New Orleans was home to not just the French, but also the Spanish, Vietnamese, and people from all over Africa and the Caribbean, or that the oldest manmade structures in North America are located in Baton Rouge."

"Plus, we learned about coastal erosion, segregation, Jim Crow [laws], swamps, and how to swing dance."


Mindaugas Dulinskas / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5."Nebraskan here, and we were taught the origin and history of Arbor Day (which began here), and we had field trips to Nebraska City (about 50 miles from my city of Lincoln) to visit Arbor Lodge and the J. Sterling Morton house (he’s the founder of Arbor Day)."

J. Sterling Morton's house in Nebraska

"We all received little seedling trees at the end of the field trip, which were meant to be taken home and planted."


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6."I’m not sure if this was regional or just in my school district, but I grew up in southern New England, and we had to watch a video on tick safety every spring. The part where the narrator told us that 'ticks like to hide in dark places, like the area your bathing suit covers,' will be burned into my mind forever."

tick on a person's skin

"My husband grew up in an area where (at the time) Lyme disease was less of an issue and he says they never talked about ticks."


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7."I grew up in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. In high school Earth science class, we learned that the Upper Peninsula supplied about 90% of the Allies' copper during WWII."

rocks on the shore in the upper peninsula of michigan at sunset

"I have no idea if it's true, but I want to believe it is. Funny thing is, I live in the Upper Peninsula now, and no one up here has ever heard of the 'UP facts' I learned downstate."


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8."In NW Georgia, we learned about the Cherokee Nation and various figures like Chief Vann and Sequoyah, the creator of their alphabet; the Georgia gold rush around Dahlonega; and Sherman's march in the Civil War."

fort pulaski

"The brief time I lived in Savannah, we learned about Fort Pulaski, named for a Polish general who fought for the colonies in the Revolution."

"Someone else mentioned the 159 counties. Oh, and Taliaferro County is pronounced 'Toliver.'"


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9."I was born and raised in northern Nevada and in fourth grade, we did a whole year of Nevada history. We learned a lot about the pioneers and westward expansion, as well as the history of mining, the railroads, and the Native American tribes in the area."

sierra nevada mountains near reno

"However, the thing that probably sticks out to me the most was the unit on the Donner Party. The place they got stuck in the Sierras is not far from Reno, so we went on a field trip there. There’s a monument there and everything."


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10."In MA, we learned about the Great Molasses Flood, which sounds like a joke, but if I remember right I think about 30 people died pretty horrifically."

great molasses flood in massachusetts

"Also, the customary Rev War battles, the throwing of the tea in Boston Harbor, kettle ponds, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, etc."


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11."As someone who was in school in Oklahoma, I was able to learn about the Tulsa Race Massacre."

poster showing victims of Tulsa Race Massacre

"This was such a huge part of history but it’s unfortunately unknown by most people, including a lot of people who live in Oklahoma."


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12."In third grade, we spent a lot of time learning about William Penn. Yeah, I live in Pennsylvania. In 7th grade, we could learn to speak Pennsylvania Dutch as an elective."

Pennsylvania Dutch country
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13."Here in North Dakota, we had a full course in 8th grade on rescuing when falling through ice on frozen lakes/rivers. Learned how to distribute our weight and roll once out."

child standing on a frozen lake

"Used ropes and we were on the ground army crawling to the 'hole in the ice' to rescue classmates. Graded and all. Good lifesaving skills."


Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

14."This is probably more a generation thing. I grew up on the Navajo Reservation (now Nation) in the 1970s–80s. I always tell people that art class was dangerous."

melting crayons on canvas

"As an elementary student, I made candles with hot wax and crayons and some ceramics with a kiln. I can also bead on a loom, but that was middle school."


Kayla Duckworth / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15."In Minnesota, they teach you about Lake Superior and the taconite industry and also more than enough info about the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

open pit of taconite

"Also, my kids have learned a lot more about the Native Americans who inhabited the upper Midwest than I ever did. They do a better job of teaching kids about that now."


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16."Connecticut really loves its whales and ship building. I remember lots of maritime-themed field trips."

portrait of P.T. Barnum

"In Fairfield County, we also learned a lot about PT Barnum. Every year they used to crown two elementary kids as Tom Thumb and Levinia Warren for the Barnum Festival. I’ll give them credit they didn’t paint him as a good-time guy (at least in my school)."


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17."Gator safety and a lot about wetlands. I also remember reading a book called The Missing Gator of Gumbo Limbo multiple times for class. Obviously, I went to elementary school in Florida."

wetlands in Florida

"Also, we had bus patrols at our school. Nowhere I’ve lived outside of Florida had them and everyone I tell them about thinks I’m lying."


Wander Photography / Getty Images/iStockphoto

18."Definitely giving away where I’m from here, but Phineas Gage. We did a unit on him in elementary school, and I think that might be why I ended up majoring in psychology."

image of the inside of a brain

"I was talking to a friend from another state, and I asked her if she’d ever done a unit on his story in class too and she said, 'Who the hell is that?' which is what I think a lot of people are probably saying as well rn. We also learned how to play chess and did an entire 'save the bees' unit."


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19."Near Seattle — we had the local Native Tribe Suquamish come and teach us how to weave bark into baskets, their sacred storytellers would tell us their people’s history, and then we would talk about longhouses. The music was based off the human heartbeat."

Woman sitting in a woven Native American blanket

"It was ingrained annually that only other tribes would build teepees, and Hollywood made up the drum sounds."


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20."Missouri in 4th grade, we did anatomy and dissections, they were more detailed than what I was taught in high school in Texas. And Texas was a class you chose, everyone had to do the dissection in Missouri."

parts of the body laid out next to a realistic model
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21."Where I’m from in MI, we learned all about the local (now defunct) copper mining industry. This makes sense considering it’s the reason so many of the students’ ancestors came to the area."

abandoned building on copper mine grounds

"But there was always so much focus on one particular event — a Christmas party that ended in a crowd crush. 110 years later, it’s still the one thing from the century-long industry that people only ever want to talk about and remember."


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22."Apparently kids outside of Alaska don’t usually have cross-country skiing as an annual part of gym class. Or mushing. Or the Eskimo-Indian Olympics. Or moose-safety lessons."

kid yelling as he does cross country skiing
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23."Last year, I chaperoned my son's 4th-grade 'pioneer' field trip to Stoney Hill Schoolhouse in Waubeka, WI to learn all about Flag Day, complete with costumes and lunch pails. It was a lot of fun! There is also A LOT of Laura Ingalls Wilder in 4th grade in Wisconsin."

woman posing in pioneer time historical reenactment
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24."In Pawtucket, Rhode Island, we learned everything there was to know about Samuel Slater and the first cotton mill in the United States. I had been on at least three field trips there (probably more) by the time I graduated high school."

Samuel Slater portrait

"I'm sure people outside of our state know about the cotton industry because it has a LARGE history, but it's definitely a requirement to know Samuel Slater and his role in it in this part of Rhode Island!"


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25."I think this is safe to say, anyone who lived in the southwest coast, in high school, marine bio/oceanography was a required course. I learned more than I ever thought about the tides, currents, everything."

teens looking into water carefully

"Didn't learn till I left California that it is not a regular part of the country's curriculum."


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26."In the Seattle area — Salmon. So much salmon education! Even had a tank of salmon fry that we hatched and released into their creek when they were big enough."

salmon in a stream in seattle

"Also Geoducks — 'Dig a duck, dig a duck, dig a geoduck, Dig a duck, dig a geoduck, dig a duck a day.' That song never leaves you once you learn it! Plenty of units on earthquakes and volcanos too, since we were surrounded by them."


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27."I don’t know if other states did this, but in Oregon City, OR, we literally had a month designated for learning about the Oregon Trail. Like playing the game, reading, and even going on a field trip to a historic site with homes and everything from people that traveled."

Oregon Trail historical reenactment
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28."Went to two different elementary schools in the Metro Detroit area. The first one was 'Columbus discovered America' (we briefly talked about Americo Vespucio), Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and talked about the Battle of Bloody Run. The second school was discussing Columbus didn't discover America but Vikings did, Leif Erikson, Henry Ford, Chief Pontiac, and the River Rogue pollution."

americna landscape

"Disappointed that we didn't learn about New France (only a footnote) and the War of 1812."

"I'm sure there's more but that's what quickly came to mind. Also, my first school was very into the British English spelling and it drove my second school nuts because it wasn't proper English even though it was."


Stephen Leonardi / Getty Images/500px

29."Lincoln for Illinois, probably. But I also lived in a suburb outside of Chicago, and we had a few 'train safety' assemblies, warning us not to play on tracks or in depots or we could die."

kids crossing a train track

"I have never met anyone inside or outside my state who had train safety, so I’m not entirely sure I didn’t hallucinate the entire thing."


Mirrorpix / Mirrorpix via Getty Images

30."My boyfriend and I were just talking about when/where you go to school in the US can affect what you learn. I'm about ten years older, and we went to elementary schools in different regions. I was taught that it was a myth that 'Columbus discovered America,' and not only were the Native Americans already here, Columbus wasn't even the first European to land in the New World. My boyfriend was taught that Columbus discovered America."

mission bells in california

"Anyway, my family moved to the next town over when I was in the 4th grade. During that time, 4th grade was when California students learned about the California Missions. I got to make not one, but two soap carvings of Mission Dolores. I at least managed to get assigned the same mission both times."


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31."The 5 C’s of Arizona: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate. Also, IDK if this was just my school, but every year on Valentine’s Day they would do 'venereal disease day' in our science classes."

red condoms in purple wrappers on a yellow background

"We had to view super gross images of STD-stricken genitalia while our teacher told us facts about each one. I guess it was to discourage teens from hooking up or something."


Javier Zayas Photography / Getty Images

32."From Alabama. We learn an inordinate amount about cotton. And peanuts."

cotton harvesting machine in alabama

"I once even went on a field trip where we walked through a cotton field. And we learned a TON about George Washington Carver and all his uses for peanuts and how peanuts saved the cotton industry. We also learned about boll weevils which are cotton’s main pest."


Andy Sacks / Getty Images

What did we miss? I'm now on a mission to collect weird state facts and will be stalking the comments accordingly.