Why does a periwinkle come out of its shell if you sing to it?
How does a frog get to the top of the Bowl Trail?
Why does a whale get beached? And why do they smell???
How do tidal pools get made?
Where do the gulls go in the winter?
Why is the water at Sand Beach colder than at Popham?
Who named this island Mt Desert, anyway? Why?
Why do the younger crabs attack the older crabs?
Where did all of these rocks come from, anyway?
What makes Thunder Hole thunder on some days and not on others?
This is just a very small sample of questions my grand kids asked during our recent camping trip in Acadia National Park. I must confess that I was challenged to answer some (most?) of them. I even tried to look them up on my ipad but Verizon was out of range!
Prior to our trip I had tried to encourage the kids to generate some of these same kinds of questions by showing short video clips from Youtube and some pictures, reading books and sharing personal stories about my prior field trips with kids to Acadia. While they seemed somewhat interested in the science and history of the island, they were much more interested in the plan for mini golf at Pirate’s Cove and ice cream at CJs!
All that changed when we arrived on the island. From the moment we entered Acadia, their questions and curiosity emerged!
So what is my point with this family vacation description? It is simply this: virtual CANNOT replace reality. Over the past several years, school field trip budgets have been slashed (and in some cases even eliminated) as districts grapple with decreasing resources. More and more, teachers are being asked to rely on the technology of virtual museums, parks, and trips to replace field trips. While I am a strong advocate for using technology for these aspects of the curriculum, I just want to encourage educators to find creative ways to beg, borrow (hopefully not steal) funds to support these important extensions of the classroom. In some districts, for example, sports boosters clubs are being asked to also support school field trips as they are equally (if not more) important as athletics and other co-curricular offerings.
And so I have one more question…
How can we live in a state with a national park like Acadia and NOT make sure that every student has the opportunity to spend time there exploring and learning about our beautiful state of Maine?