Saturday, December 01, 2007

Field Trips

The kids school is blessed by a very active parent group raising about $660 per kid per year. Considering that we have to pay for our own art, music, PE, computer and language teachers, that $ goes fast. We do manage to set aside $75 per kid for field trips. This is usually supplemented by $25 - 35 per kid in the lower classes and more for the upper classes (who go on over night - more expensive - field trips). This translates into roughly a field trip per month over the year. Or in both kids' cases this year - a bunch of them these last few weeks before winter break. Aidan had been grumbling that he had only been on one trip (and the other 2nd grade class had been on 3 or so). And that trip was across the street to the park to look at dirt - hardly terribly exciting. Quincy on the other hand had been to the the arboretum and the park across the street and also a cool organic farm, Hidden Villa, about 45 min away.

Wednesday I accompanied Quincy's class on their field trip to a nearby local library (whose children's librarian is a mom of a first grader at our school). It is conveniently located across from a nice park and playground. Teachers (like parents) always have to multi-task so the field trip managed to incorporate "science" as well by studying and drawing a large pine tree that was in the park. The librarian did a very nice job with the kids and I got to check out some good books meanwhile (it is a better kids library than our more local library). The kids got some great run around time afterwards at the playground.

Thursday I accompanied Aidan's class to Crissy Field. A place our family goes often. The park service did a GREAT job. Apparently our teacher only paid them $75 for 3 hours. We had 2 science guys and then also a park ranger who went with us across the street and lastly an art guy. The science part was really well done. They had the kid pair up. Each pair had a bucket to play with - it had clay "land", removable sponge "marsh", and bucket for the "bay". They got to sprinkle dirt on the land then squirt bottle it with sponge both in and out to see what happened. Obviously the "marsh" kept the dirt from entering the "bay". Then they did the same with kool-aid "pesticide". Get it? Marsh protects the bay. They made a point of telling the kids that it was their responsibility to protect the marsh. It was very spot on for the kids - they were able to really understand what was going on and had fun with the exploration. They made a "hypothesis" beforehand then discussed their findings afterwards. Next up was a walk across the street to the marsh with "marsh bingo" sheets and a digital camera per pair. They had to photograph everything on their sheet. Some items to find "plant that can be eaten or used for medicine; a small animal; a bird; a shell or shell fish; a person enjoying themselves; something people enjoy looking at; the marsh". Afterwards while they dug into their lunches, the science folk were busy printing up their photos. Then back upstairs to the lab. Josh had waded into the marsh (in full rubber waders) and collected a big bucket of goo and distributed it into smaller containers for each pair to explore. They had a spoon and pipettes to use to scoop up any critters they could find and put them in a divided pitre dish and look at them through the 5x microscope (oh yeah - Aidan REALLY wants his own microscope). There were amphipods (look like mini-shrimp) galore and some worm things and itty bitty clams etc. Very cool. I think they could have done this for quite a bit longer but had to finish up and go do an "art project". They had a two sided "mask" to use. Idea was to do a collage from their printed marsh photos on one side and then a marsh animal on the other side. They didn't quite get done with the collage and took them back to their classroom to finish up. Aidan reported back that he did a "fox" face on his other side. I am interested to see it! Aidan said it might have been his favorite ever field trip. I agree - it really was very good! Of course Aidan's latest stated profession when he grows up is to be a "scientist" (he really wants to be a Mythbuster but figures that isn't really possible).

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