April 26, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Field Trip

I'm linking up with my bloggy friend Joanne from Head Over Heels For Teaching for her weekly linky...

There is nothing that motivates my students like a field trip, especially one that is taken after a long week of testing! Earlier in the year I took my sixers to a special Titanic exhibit held at the Great Lakes Science Museum. It was such a success that I even wrote a blog post about it. You can read more about it HERE.

This past week my sixers, their second grade buddies, and I journeyed to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE place to take students on a field trip! Most of my sixers had never been to this museum so it was even more fun for me this year. I spent several days prior to our trip discussing what they would see. So much of what is on exhibit ties into what they have learned either this current school year or last: development of early human civilizations, Native American peoples, evolution of animals, geological time periods, fossils, rocks and minerals, the planets, stars, layers of earth, and Ohio habitats and ecosystems. They were super excited to see everything!

What they didn't know was that I had arranged to have them see a special program in the museum's planetarium. Instead of the typical "here are the planets and stars" presentation, the program was about ancient civilizations' astronomical knowledge and the stories/legends that were told about the stars and planets. Much of this year's Social Studies curriculum matched perfectly with the material presented. My sixers learned about Chinese star charts, Egyptian constellations, and Hindu myths that explained the creation of the universe while being treated to a display of the night sky. They LOVED it!

And the BEST part is that we were the only students scheduled for the planetarium soooooo.... the instructor asked me if I would like him to take my kiddos up to the observatory on the roof to see the telescope. WOW! This happened once before when I took a class to the museum and it was AWESOME! I never expected a return visit. The museum's telescope was installed in 1899 and was the strongest, largest telescope in the U.S. at the time. While it is opened to the public on Wednesday nights, it is not a scheduled feature for school field trips. In fact, the instructor said it had been nearly a year since he had taken students up the three flights to the scope.

Because the day was so bright and sunny, we were able to SEE our sun! We couldn't look directly through the scope at the sun, of course. The instructor reflected the sun's image on a piece of tile board; we could even see several sun spots via this technique! We also visually experienced the rotation of the earth by watching the sun's image travel across the tile. TOO COOL!

So many questions were asked, so many connections made, so much curiosity piqued all by one trip to a museum! I can't wait for our class next Monday to continue our field trip follow-up discussion. It'll be a little bit like reliving the field trip all over again!

Do you take your students on field trips?

1 comment:

  1. How great that your kids got special treatment! And, excellent timing with taking a field trip right after testing-I think I might schedule ours for later (but it gets super hot here) because after testing they're very antsy! Thanks for sharing and linking up Angela!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching


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