Field trips are a favorite part of many individual’s educational experience no matter how old or young they may be. Field trips allow students to make connections between their lessons in the classroom to real-world topics. They allow students to engage deeply in hands-on experiences related to the standards.
I remember one of my favorite field trips was in high school where we visited multiple landmarks around Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota. At each of our stops, we engaged in topics and learned about significant events in our community’s unique history. We visited Mounds Park, an important place in Native American history and culture for the area. Our tour bus meandered through communities that were affected by the construction of the freeway that once housed most of the area’s French immigrants. Our instructor also pointed out places of significance to African Americans and Hmong immigrants. We went to the local stockyard and watched a cattle auction in action. This high school field trip allowed me to experience and better understand the history, economy and livelihood of people in my community. It was very memorable.
A high school field trip that allows students hands-on experiences and greater insight at future careers are most popular today. They help students decide what their next step in their education and life may be. They offer students a deep understanding of what they study in the classroom. Below you will find several ideas for high school field trips in science, social studies, literacy, and math topics.
Science field trips
Science field trips can vary greatly at the high school level. Students often take chemistry, biology, and physics in high school. They can also engage in electives such as astronomy or marine biology. There are many options for high school science field trips.
Students learning about earth sciences or astronomy may attend a stargazing event where they use telescopes to identify constellations and planets. Students of chemistry may visit a lab or testing site. Biology classes may visit a nursery, seed bank, zoo, aquarium, or farm. I was an environmental educator for a nature center in northern Minnesota and we offered programs for high school science students on birds. They went bird watching and tagged chickadees during these visits to our center. As an educator for Audubon New Mexico, we offered service learning programs for high school students. Teachers of science topics may plan their own field trips to parks, beaches and other public areas for students to collect data, make observations, and identify species. The data and observations students make in these places can be used for numerous labs, activities, and discussions back in the classroom.
Social Studies field trips
Social studies field trips at the high school level may range from visiting geographic locations to conducting basic surveying to engaging in historical experiences. The content covered in civics, history, and geography classes can help guide educators planning high school field trips.
Many national parks or state parks of historical importance offer field trips for students at the high school level. I remember visiting Fort Snelling as a student in Minnesota. Reenactments of historical events are another high school field trip idea that can help students better understand the topics they learn about in the classroom. These may range from famous gunfights in the wild west if you are in Montana to Revolutionary War and Civil War reenactments in the eastern part of our country. Depending on your location, the type of historical reenactment a class visits will vary. Civics is a popular topic taught in high school. Students in this social studies course may visit a polling sight during an election. A trip to the local police department or court house may be an excellent way for them to engage with this area of social studies first hand. Check with your local history museum, historical society or club, or state park to see what your area has to offer.
ELA field trips
Plays are an excellent field trip to allow students to experience literature through drama first hand. Is your local theatre putting on a play of Oliver Twist? Does an art gallery have an upcoming exhibit that relates to a text you have examined with your students? Is there a recent story your students read, that is set in an area in present-day times or history that you could visit with your students? A field trip to the local newspaper office, a publisher’s office, or poetry slam a the local book store are other ELA field trips that may inspire your students.
Another idea for an ELA field trip is taking students to a local event or place to collect data or interview individuals. They can take the information they collected in the field and report on it back in the classroom.
Math field trips
Field trips related to math may not be the most common in schools. Any field experience that requires a student to measure, weigh, or calculate something can be turned into a math field trip. Students helping organizations such as Habitat for Humanity may be excellent math related field trips. A trip to shoot off rockets to a local park where students calculate their speed and height may be an appealing hands-on field trip for math students. The options for math-related field trips are many. Teachers may just need to think outside of the box, as they plan for them. Unlike science there may not be a pre-designed program at your local nature center that aligns with your standards as a math teacher.
* * * * *
High school field trips allow students to engage first hand in a variety of topics they learn about in the classroom. Field trips are an excellent way to engage students studying any subject in what they learn more deeply than just learning from a text book or in-class instruction. Depending on your location, the programs offered at historical sites, nature centers, and parks will vary. The above are just a few ideas for teachers to use with their students. Some of the best field trips are one’s that allow students to engage in topics directly or observe first hand how their skills can translate into the workforce later in life. As a highschool educator, what field trips would be most appropriate for your students?
Do you need some field trip ideas? How about visiting an animal shelter? Many children want to have a pet, but don’t realize how much work goes into caring for one. This trip will show them what it takes to care for a pet and how selfless volunteers use their time for a great cause.
Photo scavenger hunts are a great way to allow learners to use technology in nature. This idea is widely supported in nature-based learning. It helps learners develop a hybrid mind by exposing students to the natural world and integrating technology into the learning experience.
Free field trips for classrooms do exist. With budget cuts that many schools have undergone and families that are struggling to make ends meet, it is still important to provide students an opportunity to learn through different experiences.