Why Take Field Trips?
Field trips offer opportunities to students
that they may not have known existed,
and expose them to learning experiences that can not be
duplicated inside the classroom. These “out-of-school” experiences
have been a tradition since the earliest schools were founded.
A number of factors have come into play in the past 10 years to interfere with the field trip element
of the educational experience. Decreased funding across all
government departments and educational systems have forced administrations
to resort to the most economical educational
experiences. Inflationary prices in fuel
and transportation services have made the cost of traveling to
a remote location nearly prohibited with prices for a school
bus well over $100 and frequently
over $200 for a single trip. Efforts to improve the educational
system within the State of Maine and throughout the United Stated
has resulted in a huge increase in the workload of teachers
as they attempt to incorporate new curriculum plans and
All of these factors combined, reduce the number of school that are taking
field trips to museums, planetariums, and cultural centers,
consequently depriving many students of a experiences
that would enrich their education and, for some, provide
motivation and insights that suit their learning style.
Although books and classrooms offer
wonderfully comprehensive educational learning experiences,
the citizen of the 21st century will be expected to learn and
re-learn from their working and living environment. The skills
for critical observation and comprehension from a person’s surroundings
are essential lifelong learning objectives.
At the University of Maine, public school classes have
visited a variety of different sites to enhance their learning
experience ranging from a walk through the hockey arena to a tour of the universe at the planetarium,
and a tour through UMaine's unique museums. The feedback that we have
received from the leaders of these groups suggests that this
is a priceless opportunity for teaching with exposure
to the “real thing”. It is also a chance for the students to
get a first impression of the University of Maine and begin
to think of it as an option for their educational future. The UMaine resources are
maintained to offer a maximum learning experience to public visitors at a minimum
of user cost. Where admission fees or use fees are required they
have been kept low and reflect only a fraction of the expense to maintain the visitor experience.
In light of the precarious status of the field
trip programs within the public school, the planetarium staff
would like to provide as much support as possible for teachers
endeavoring to take field trips as much as possible. The following
text is from a booklet published by Museum Institute for Teaching
Science (MITS), with the intention of explaining museum field
trips (including field trips to planetariums). You are welcome to copy any of
this text for use in field trip planning.