Sunday, March 3, 2013

Science Outside of the Classroom

The benefits of field trips are important to student learning and provide memorable experiences that enhance what is taught in the classroom.  Many field trips offer students a more hands-on and interactive learning environment than the classroom.  Most students learn best this way!

I basically teach earth science in my classroom.  I can teach through hands-on labs, PowerPoint presentations with great pictures of the concepts, or informational text about what we are learning.  Unfortunately, I learned from my own experiences of getting pictures for a PowerPoint presentation, that going out to take photos of the different rock types or weathering etc. was probably more beneficial than the 
 presentation itself.
Here is a picture of mechanical weathering.  It is a good picture but to actually see it in person is to understand what is happening that much better.  You can touch the rock, see its size, and experience it in a totally different way than in the classroom.  This is a picture of how the granite in the White Tanks Regional Park collects water during the rainy season, hence the name White Tanks.

These catchment areas are stunning and memorable when seen in person, but not so much when only seen in a digital picture.  The entire journey of getting to the area, hiking, eating lunch out in nature, becomes part of the memory of the learning experience.  

I also teach about biomes in my ecology unit. I do use a lot of PowerPoint and photos to try and get my point across.  If you live in a particular biome and can take a field trip to actually see the plants and animals the way they live, your students will be taking away so much more from this experience!  Here is a saguaro cactus from the same area as the other two pictures.
The spidery plant at the right is called an ocotillo. It only becomes green after a rain, otherwise it looks like a bunch of dried sticks.  You can walk right up to these plants and see the little green leaves shooting out from the stick-like skeleton of this plant.  You can't really do that in the classroom.

Not only does this park have great geology and botany, it also has some great cultural features.  Never forget the cultural aspects of a field trip!  Here are some fabulous petroglyphs from this area.

Cultural aspects like these are fun for students to find and hunt for!  It reminds students how humans are a part of the ecosystem and how we used to live.  I would challenge you to find great areas near your school that can offer wonderful learning experiences that enhance your teaching.  Field trips are a must for students now days who don't venture too far from their front door.  How can they know about protecting the natural world if they don't know anything about that world?
View from White Tanks looking into Phoenix


Sue Cahalane said...

Your photos are fantastic & the environment where you live looks beautiful! I too love getting my kids outdoors exploring. It is so cold here now though so we haven't been outside recently but spring is right around the corner! I am your newest follower, I love your blog!
Science for Kids Blog

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