Understanding the purpose of field trips and developing thinking around them is important at all of The Étude Schools. That’s why, on the day before their trip to Kohler Company for the STEM event it offers each year in October, Mosaic 8th graders attended a pre-trip meeting during Advisory.
The meeting began with a Gathering: Circle Up. With a stuffed-toy toss, students shared what they already knew about the Kohler Co. Face-to-face, all are included. They listen to each other, hear and learn from each other, and stay on their toes through this element of fun: the toss. After sharing, students were given information about the trip so they would know what to expect. When students are clear about how the trip fits into their day, classes they might miss, and what the visit will be like, the can relax and focus on the new experience. Students’ questions about Kohler and what happens there were collected to have them think in advance and to review afterward. Behavior in this workplace was also discussed to help students focus on Habits of Professionalism.
Reflection after a trip is crucial in building a sustained connection between experience and learning. As a whole group, students shared their biggest take-aways: something they found interesting, an answer to a question, what they wanted to remember, or a connection to life. In this way the students make it personal and relevant. Sharing adds to the value of their perspectives and those of others, making the experience richer and more memorable. After the whole group reflection, students completed an independent written reflection in their Field Reports. These are comprised of several questions to answer and keep on file in their Google Drive Advisory Folder for use at Presentations of Learning and when considering future career and college choices.
In the end, eighth graders said they liked the actual experience of being at the Kohler Company best.
“The Kohler STEM trip gave me options,” Haley said. “It’s about building things. I am most interested in fashion design, but… I’ll apply what I learned to engineering [seminar], even though I want to be a psychologist.”
Alex B’s response was simple: “Job opportunities!”
Alex R said he felt the visit provided information about “a lot of opportunities to get into careers early” as well as ideas about college.
Clearly, students continue to think about their field trip.
“It’s always nice to have a bit more experience with STEM. Right now there’s a 37% chance of my becoming an engineer,” Luke said.