2008-04-03 / Youth

EDUCATION NOTES

Real life connections!

COURTESY PHOTO In the field Third grade students at H.G. Olsen Elementary School at Natural Bridge Caverns last week. COURTESY PHOTO In the field Third grade students at H.G. Olsen Elementary School at Natural Bridge Caverns last week. On March 27, third graders at H.G. Olsen Elementary officially became spelunkers. Yes, we are now bonafide cave explorers, thanks to the Port Aransas Education Foundation. Several months ago, we applied for a grant to visit Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels to supplement and extend our earth science unit. Sometime in February, we received a letter awarding us the grant monies to be able to realize this awesome field trip!

The week of the field trip was spent in fascinating study about caves in far off places; cave formations like stalactite, stalagmite, column, flowstone, cave bacon; cave inhabitants such as trogloxenes, troglophiles, troglobites. All of these facts were interesting, but lacked what students needed to make a lasting impression on their schema. As the days quickly approached for our trip, doubts and nerves began creeping up about logistics, distance and organization of the trip for 32 students ages 8 and 9.

DANA SCOTT DANA SCOTT Finally, the day arrived, and we embarked on our three-and-a-half hour trip to the caves!

As educators, one of the moments we hope for is when we see a student make a real life connection to the objective being taught. That hope was realized again and again in 32 shining eyes as they explored the wonders of our natural world! Students were oohing, aahing, and asking some questions the tour guide didn't even know the answers to! We were so proud!

Many times field trips are thought to be a waste of money and learning time. When a well thought-out trip is planned, students attach the knowledge learned to a real life event in ways that are hard to duplicate in the classroom setting. As teachers, we want to take every opportunity possible to make learning real for our students. Thank you, Port Aransas Education Foundation, for giving us the opportunity to make it real for our kids!

Dana Scott and Gretchen Baughman teach third grade at H.G. Olsen Elementary School.

GRETCHEN BAUGHMAN GRETCHEN BAUGHMAN

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