If you can't take them to it, bring it to them!

Submitted by Angela Becker on Fri, 2017-07-14 00:00

Like so many of us, I feel that field trips are next to impossible to coordinate for my students. I have anywhere between 140-190 7th graders and that's only half of the students in our grade. Finding places that can accommodate 300+ students is next to impossible. Taking that many students out of the building really messes up the other teachers. (Field trips have to be broken up into smaller groups and maybe even stretched over more than one day. This causes issues for the other teachers in the building as they may lose multiple instruction days.) Finding funding for that many students (we can't charge any fees) can be difficult as well. Then it's there's the bus schedules, chaperones, etc. A colleague and I did coordinate a spring break trip to the Discovery Center to see the Bodies exhibit when it was here but I've only done it once.

I am looking forward to scheduling field trips for my Aquatic Ecology class (only 32 students) however it seems unlikely that my 7th graders will get any. So it's time I really explore the other options.

I can find plenty of documentaries and I have had a few guest speakers over the years, but the are so many more ways that could be bring the experts and resources into my room. I will actively pursue more guest speakers. I need to implement virtual fieldtrips and Skype sessions. I need to post information on my website for parents and students about where and when hands on opportunities are taking place. (I think I've heard everyone express how amazed they are at the educational experiences in our community.) and I want/need to line up more meeting opportunities like the Discovery Center one that I did. It was fun to see the students out with their families and I think the parents appreciate an event to take their students to when they are on break with them.

Who are you going to invite to your classroom? What virtual fieldtrips have you participated in? Do you untilize Skype in your classroom?


Darcy Hale's picture

I teach PE, so yes, I have brought people to my students rather than attempting to take hundreds outside the building.  Two years ago I brought in Fencing in the Schools and had an assembly where I got to fence the Principal (I let him win lol). The program left me equipment to teach a trimester of fencing to my classes.  Last year I brought in an Olympic pole vaulting coach who coached ISU's Stacy Dragila.  He brought equpiment and several current ISU scholarship pole vaulters to teach the kids stick jumping (the ancient practice of farmers using long poles to creek and obstacle jump as they managed their farms). We taught stick jumping to all the PE classes that day. We used Skype to Skype Stacy and then several college pole vaulters who were at nationals.  Each Skype interaction provided the kids inspiration and real world application for the skills they were learning.  

I am excited to invite one of ISU's docs of sociology to my classroom this fall to teach my photography class the techniques and applications of repeat photography.  She does repeat photography for some of our national parks here in the West.  

For my walking/trekking class, I am excited to invite one of ISU's docs of biology to my classroom to complete a bioblitz on campus using iNaturalist.  

I am working with several people at ISU and the director of education at our Pocatello zoo to build a small greenhouse/raised bed on campus to grow a small organic garden of veggies and greens to feed some of the indigenous critters at the zoo.  I hope the zoo will be able to bring an animal or two to campus when we are ready to harvest the crops.  

Angela Becker's picture

The opportunities you have brought to your students are AMAZING! You have really opened my eyes to thinking outside of the box!

Denise Schwendener's picture

I totally agree with you that it is complicated and challenging to do field trips in middle school.  I only teach about 115 students and I find it overwhelming (the logistics, cost, scheduling).  The Boise Watershed does outreach programs that come to your school.  They do an AMAZING job!  Last year my students learned about ground water and did an experiment, creating their own aquifer.  I just got to sit back and watch/participate.  AND they taught all my classes - all five of them!  And they did it for free!  What a great resrouce!  I cannot wait to bring them back.  
The Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center also offers a variety of programs.  I have not tried them, but the center is tucked right in the Boise Foothills.  It would be easy to incorporate a hike before or after the program.  

I have also reached out to some graduate students and professors at Boise State.  We are planning on having some volcanologists come to our classes to describe what their research is like.  They are really excited to come to the school.  You could just email a professor - you never know what might happen! 

Angela Becker's picture

I knew of these resources but it has been so long since I've participated in the programs that I'd forgotten all about them! I am definitely going to get in touch with the Boise Watershed, the Foothills Learning Center, and BSU. Thank you!!!!

Troy Gleave's picture

I am in the same boat as most of you, I have 200 kids on my class load and it makes it really hard to get out and try to go see the awesome things around us. We have a pond near by and I have used that to walk to a few times and find relationships between the pond and the community and who is using it with us. I have been fortunate enough to have a group from the Environmental Studies Department at the University of Idaho come to my classroom and share some activities and information about the programs they offer.  The kids really liked the presentation they did on skulls and identification of them. I would love to get out and take the kids to a fish trap and fish hatchery. Show them the importance of raising steelhead and salmon the affect those species have on the river health. If only money wasn't an issue...