Next Generation Science Standards

How should field trips be maneuvered into a science lesson?

I was curious to know your thoughts and experiences with using field trips as part of your lessons. I usually would think that field trips would be taken after the lesson as a fun way to connect what the students have been learning, but what about using it before as background knowledge?

Jacqueline Interiano
Jacqueline Interiano
190 Activity Points

I love your question!!! I will be taking 4th and 5th grade students to our university's engineering department for a full day next month. The main purpose is to have them experience the different opportunities for various engineering careers and computer science. The majority of our students have few family members who attended college. They may pass the university as they move around town but few know what happens there. We will take a short tour during the day so they can at least learn about the variety of programs offered and hopefully spark some interest in pursing a degree no matter which university they may choose to attend. The students are also building a robot to test on the field trip. We will have engineering students to help us and to present some of their creations. Last year, a university student modified his skateboard with a motor and controller so he could zip around campus.

One of the biology professors will present his studies on alligators and the disease fighting properties of alligator blood! (He is working on creating a type of penicillin that might help people with infections like gangrene or flesh eating bacteria.) He usually brings some small 12" ones for our students to touch and he will have a 3 or 4' gator wrapped around his waist when he shows us his slide show of gator expeditions around the world. 

When you choose to show phenomena first, students are able to attach their learning to the questions they create on that first day! I much prefer teaching without front loading. I'm glad to read that you are like-minded. 

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
89009 Activity Points

Taking students on a field trip at the beginning of a lesson or unit is a great way to give them those "lived experiences" to draw from throughout the rest of the unit.  If you are following the 5E instructional model, then the field trip can be the Engage phase of the lesson and some particular experience during the field trip can serve as the phenomenon that you want your students to try to figure out.  If you have tablet devices that you can use with your students, they can collect photos, videos, and questions they come up with during the field trip and those can be the springboard for further investigations back in the classroom.  If you are only able to take students on one field trip during a unit, then I think taking them at the beginning is actually more pedagogically powerful.    

Dana Atwood-Blaine
Dana Atwood-Blaine
3616 Activity Points

I suggest a science museum that has interactive displays for children.  You can give your students an assignment to report about an exhibit that they particularly enjoyed and/o learned something new from.  Encourage the students to act like reporters at the museum, with a clipboard, pad of paper and writing instrument.  During the field trip, circulate among the students and help them stay on task.This may only be possible if there is a science museum within a reasonable drive from your school. 

Deborah Bronner
Deborah Bronner
650 Activity Points

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