If I work in a district where I am unable to take my kids on plenty of field trips, what are some alternatives or activities that could be done on school grounds, but that are still fun and eye-opening for students?
– B., Arkansas
Budgets, locations, and policies can all curtail your ability to take students out of school. Here are a few things that you could try:
On school grounds
- Gardening: Apply for grants or contact local nurseries to help build raised beds or a greenhouse.
- Video: Write, direct, and record urban wildlife short films.
- Ecological studies: Conduct transects and make quadrats out of bendy straws. Drop them around the grounds and do species counts, biomass estimates, distribution maps.
- Species counts: Have students research what they find and their ecological roles.
- Soil analysis: Look for soil invertebrates. Do a chemical analysis and create a recommendation report for the principal.
- “Campfire science:” Teach stoichiometry by making s’mores in a self-contained fire pit or on a grill. (Be sure to follow proper safety protocols and check with the principal, first!)
Bring it inside
- Visiting scientists: Many organizations have travelling shows and presenters.
- Terrariums: Start up colonies of harmless invertebrates like crickets, sowbugs, and earthworms.
- Bottle ecosystems: Search the NSTA Learning Center (https://learningcenter.nsta.org) and check out my collection: https://goo.gl/o6ovVd
- Pond water aquarium: Collect water, invertebrates, and plants from a local pond.
- Plants: Grow plants from seed and monitor over the term.
- Webcams: Many websites have nature cams.
- Videoconferencing: Several organizations will connect your class with scientists.
- Sister schools: Run concurrent experiments and exchange data via video, wikis, or shared drives.
Hope this helps!