An Active Approach to Traditional Field Trips
As an Expeditionary STEM School, Amana differentiates between traditional field trips, in which students are often spectators, and fieldwork, in which students are active investigators, applying the research tools, techniques of inquiry, and standards of presentation used by professionals in the field.
Amana students attend 6-10 field studies per school year. At the start of each semester, teachers will send home permission slips for grade-level field studies (including the overnight trip for grades 4-8) which will include any fees required for attendance.
Unlike a traditional field trip
Fieldwork has a clear purpose.
Fieldwork has a clear purpose that furthers the work of the semester-long expedition (i.e., students collect data, conduct interviews, do observations). In many cases, fieldwork takes place over an extended period of time with several visits to the same site.
Students travel to places that are integral to what they are studying.
The travel is not seen as a break or a reward but an opportunity for important learning. Students return to the classroom with a charge to use their data and the learning to create something meaningful.
Learning is active and students are engaged.
Whether it’s at an aquarium, a farm, or a museum, students are not there as passive listeners. They are there to conduct research for their studies: documenting notes, taking photos, and interviewing experts.
Fieldwork is used to cultivate curiosity and background knowledge.
In addition to having students conduct research outside the school, teachers bring experts from the community into the classroom who collaborate with students on projects, teach them skills from their field, and critique their work using professional standards.
Connecting Students to the Community
Along with Field Studies, Service Learning in EL schools is a critical part of learning Expeditions. Each learning Expedition will always have a Service Learning component tying students’ learning to their local (or global) community. At Amana, Service Learning goes beyond charitable acts, such as cleaning up a city park, and extends also to rigorous academic products that provide a service for the community, such as conducting energy audits of city buildings to help a city save money and reduce its carbon footprint. Older students may participate in internships and apprenticeships.
Our annual “Better World Day” is a beautiful celebration of students and teachers taking civic action to make the world a safer, stronger, and more just place. At Amana, our younger students beautify community spaces by creating seed pods, bird feeders, and decorative planters, and our older students work to combat flooding at a local park and help build a Tiny House shelter for a local person in need.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are there fees for each Field Study?
Field studies do have fees, which cover facility/entry fees, transportation, and supplies (if needed), and are mandatory for all students. In most cases, particularly overnight field studies, chaperones are also subject to fees. As many neighbor schools have cut their offsite opportunities for students’ altogether, Amana’s mission promotes enrichment that allows students to experience real-world connections to the educational content, as they learn with hands-on, interactive methods. Please consult with your child’s teacher for specific field study and chaperone procedures. All fees are communicated to parents at the beginning of the year.
Can I chaperone a Field Study?
Absolutely! We’d highly encourage you to take part in these unique experiences. Chaperones not only help ensure the safety of students as they go through the fieldwork activities (particularly during overnight trips), but they also assist teachers by keeping students on task during academic experiences and supervise students by managing behavior with a positive approach.