Not your average field trip

Matt comes home with tons of cool stories from school, but he's never going to write a blog post (no matter how much I beg and cajole) because he'd rather be reading books or playing with Finn or feels like he should be washing dishes. So, I'm taking the keyboard into my own hands.

Authentic, experiential learning is all the buzz in education, and his school stresses its importance, though it would be false to say that this happens consistently. However, he maintains that the Humanities Department is the most cutting-edge in the school. Take, for example, the recent field trip he was on. And when I say field trip, I don't mean passively walking through a museum. I mean, students going into the field, doing field research. Geography students doing real geography. 

field trip 1

Year 10 students (9th graders) recently stayed overnight at a youth hostel and charted the contours of a riverbed at three different points. Equipped with tape measures, yardsticks, some spear-like thing and flowmeters, the kids were up to their knees in riverrocks and data. Their task: prove or disprove the hypothesis that river X is a classic river formation (steep, narrow and fast near the source, broad, slow and wide at the mouth.)   

river measurements

To answer this question in a classroom, students would be given the data, and they would simply crunch it and analyze it. Not so easy in real life, however. How do you know where a riverbank ends and a field or footpath begins? Where is the bottom of the river--on top of this boulder or that one, or maybe even under the boulder, wherever that is?  So they not only learn the importance of data, but the variability of data--that numbers have a source, and that the source may be wrong.

river measurements 2

I repeat: 9th graders.  


 note from the editor: I hope you enjoy the irony in that this post was in fact composed by Matt, albeit while he was doing dishes (it is Mother's Day, after all). Keyboard was in fact in my hands. But if you, or he, thinks I'm signing up to be his secretary (as he gleefully says,"this dictating stuff is fun--maybe I will write a book!"), you haven't analyzed the data correctly.



Chip said...

I think that the note from the editor was the funniest thing I saw or heard all day. I, for one, would enjoy reading more collaborative blog posts.

Jeff Forster said...

Matt = blog dead weight