6.10 Field Trips
Everyone has a field trip memory. They are the highlight of the school year for many children and they have the potential to provide all students, especially those from financially disadvantaged homes, with stimulating experiences. Field trips may also be the impetus for continued learning and can bring what is taught in the classroom to life. A visit to the birthplace of a hero or inventor may even provide a child with the inspiration for career choices and encourage them to strive for a higher level of achievement.
Different academic subjects can be studied simultaneously during field trips and the understanding of various concepts is often enhanced through hands-on experiences and exploration. Field trips can:
- Provide real experiences related to subjects of study
- Enrich and expand the curriculum
- Strengthen observation skills by immersing a child in sensory activities
- Expand a child’s awareness of their own community
- Serve as a motivational “carrot” for good behavior (some schools do not allow students to participate in a trip if they do not meet expectations)
A field trip can be as simple as taking a group of students out on the school grounds for a nature lesson or as adventurous as a visit to a historical site in another state (though the issues of governing law tend to add complexity). Schools can also contact mobile science labs or groups and individuals who bring history to life in multimedia, live-action presentations. Whether it is a trip to the local zoo, a planetarium, or just a nature walk, children learn about the world and how to interact with others when they leave the classroom environment.
Rather than simply studying about proper nutrition, students can visit a farm and see first-hand how fruits and vegetables are grown and livestock is raised. California’s Farm to School Program connects schools with local farms in an effort to provide educational opportunities related to health and nutrition and with the objective of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias. Additional resources can be found here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/nu/he/farmtoschool.asp, http://www.davisfarmtoschool.org/
Field trips can often be costly, require supervision, transportation, and advance planning, issues that are addressed in the state Education Code. They are not, however, out of the question even when budgets are tight. Institutions typically charge a per student fee for field trip visits, although the Chabot Space & Science Center, for example, has a contractual arrangement with the Oakland Unified School District that provides for free admission for school classes. In addition, funding from parent associations, fund-raisers and community organizations can make field trips accessible to all students
In researching this article, we often heard that field trips are less common now than they once were. We were not able to find statistical evidence to support or refute this claim. If you know of such research, will you add a comment with a link?
Thanks to Andrew Sohn for help with this topic