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Informal Science

Field Trips

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Luke Mcdaniel Luke Mcdaniel 190 Points

I'm currently pursuing becoming a teacher and am in my junior year of college. In class we discussed how field trips often don't promote learning and are not helpful for most students. What are some ways to ensure active learning is going on during a field trip and what types of field trips would help students gain real life skills regarding STEM?



Grant Meth Grant Meth 410 Points

Hi Luke, 

I actually had a class in highschool that you could consider was field trip based. It was field biology where the majority of class periods, our teacher would take us to the local biking trails or creeks and we would find various plants or animals to identify. I really enjoyed the class because it was fun to get out and see what we could have just been discussing from a text book. It is definitely more memorable because of the experiences we had and I actually remember some of the things that we learned in there. 

Makayla Schluter Makayla Schluter 515 Points

Hello Luke, 

I am honestly quite surprised to hear the idea that field trips are ineffective and don’t promote learning. Personally, I believe this type of experiential learning is most effective. Perhaps some of what is being referred to as ineffective field trips are some like I remember going on such as roller skating, ice skating and skiing. These didn’t seem all that educational to me, however they did provide an experience some students might never get otherwise. Also, I would say all the trips we took, no matter where we went, lasted with me the longest. They are experiences that students remember and if done appropriately can really make a lasting impact on your learners. 

I think a way to ensure there is active learning on a field trip is to go to a place that has hands-on activities that students can engage in. Take the opportunity to go beyond passive learning and let students explore (with reason and obviously adequate supervision). Don’t ruin the experience with a lengthy assignment or test at the end but do provide some sort of reflection or activity that makes students aware that this is an important learning experience even though they are out of the classroom setting. 

Because STEAM is so comprehensive, so too are the places students can go to engage in these types of skills. Some of my initial ideas include going to a farm, an energy plant, a community garden, a museum, or even just simply a nature hike on a local trail. You don’t have to go far to create an incredible learning experience for your students in STEAM.


Thank you for bringing up this topic! I look forward to learning more about this as well!



3rd Year Elementary Education Major



Nancy Gregory Nancy Gregory 145 Points

Hi Luke, 

Your right, active learning is the best method to make a field trip a success with students- both from a socio-emotional and academic level. Even a treasure hunt at a history museum is active and educational for students. The field trips at The Dawes Arboretum are standards based (to reinforce those concepts taught in the classroom) and totally hands-on. To be immersed in nature and able to see aquatic life just pulled from a pond, handle an owl's talons or play an active game about decomposers all spark STEM interest and excite these learners to want more. Pre/post trip activities @ school can be useful and should be encouraged. 

Luke Smith Luke Smith 955 Points


I beleive that field trips are one of the best types of learning expereinces for students that is very beneficial due to actually being in person for an investgation and get a feel for the atmoshpere rather than looking at pictures online. I do understand and see where you are coming from in terms of students not being fully engaged all the time during a trip. They can get easily distracted and can lose their focus. One way I know from previous experience that was effective was to have students bring some sort of sheet to fill out while they are on the trip so they have certain things they need to look for while on the trip. Another idea would be to plan field trips around students actually doing something active hand-on during the trip rather than just observing. Students learn best when they get to do something and develop questions, not stand and listen. I am from Iowa and one trip that really stood out to me was visiting the science center here in Iowa. While there I got to do so many activites conducting several experiements all throughout the center. This was a fantastic experience because I actually got to do fun experiments. What ideas have you came up with since constructing this question? How important is STEAM to you?


Zach Millan Zach Millan 639 Points

What I've seen is assuring that time spent on the field trip remains structured and with the smallest groups possible. Having the students continuously self assess the assignments with their groups to report as a larger group later on can also motivate active learning. What I've used in the past was our trip to a local barrier island, and I had my students create a live field guide of plants seen on the island. This was fun enough for the students to become invested in the activity and keep the students engaged.

Charissa Barnhill Charissa Barnhill 2434 Points

I don't have a lot of experience going on field trips, but the one I do take with my Oceanography students is to a local marine center, and I find it to be very informational for the students. I beleive this is a really valuable experience for them because it makes what we talk about a little more relevant to them. For example, we learn about a lot of different types of marine equipment such as a secchi disk, but this means very little to them becuase they don't have a great understanding of what it is. Whenever we go to the marine center, they actually get to stand on the peir and use one which makes it much more relevant to them and they are much more engaged. I provided them with a set of questions I wanted to them to think about as we went through the program, and then had them reflect once the trip was over. I found that for the most part studetns were really engaged in the material, and they truly had some great reflections and make lots of connections to things we had been learning about in class. 

Sehar Sohail Sehar 880 Points

I think field  trips are a phemonenal way of enabling the students to be more engaged with the curriculum. The more hands on we keep our assignments, the higher chances children have of retaining that tangible information in into their long term memory, and better chanceds we have of creating science advocates out of our students for life.

Brad Tanner Brad Tanner 30 Points

Good Morning All, Yes, Informal Learning is a great tool/method to inspire & spark interest in a particular topic.  Which then can lead to further investigation on own and ask questions. Mote Marine Laboratory is offering now offering lots of virtual learning experiences to assist classroom learning during these difficult times. Please reach out or visit for more information. Happy Monday !  Stay safe and happy ! :) --

Rachel Schermerhorn Rachel Schermerhorn 275 Points

I took a group of kindergarteners to a park that had a nature center in it that was 2 blocks away from the school. I made them bring their notebooks and colored pencils and for 20 minutes of the trip they were to stay with their group but just draw what they saw around them. The teacher and I would go around with our phones and take pictures of the things the kids thought were interesting and then the next day at the school we looked up the different plants and things we took pictures of and shared them with the whole class. They really got a kick out of this. They obviously had time to play at the park too but this makes it a little bit more educational.

Mya Violet Mya Violet 660 Points

Personally, I have seen lots of field trips connect to students learning. I know of a kindergarten class that goes to a learning farm each year. They go on this field trip after they have gone over this topic in depth. I personally even remember going on field trips in elementary school that related to what we learned in school. I love the concept of active learning and I think it is important educators focus on that when planning a field trip experience. Students love the hands-on learning in the classroom. So why not ensure the field trips include hands-on learning for the students. I think finding a good balance and ensuring there is a connection between learning and field trips is important. 

Tania Marien Tania Marien 890 Points

I would like to add to this conversation the extensive research about informal learning environments at A search for 'field trips' will bring up results that may be of interest. One example is this article from the Journal of Interpretation Research

Field Trips and the Experiential Learning Cycle

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