Field trips with a focus on science are a great way for your family to learn more about science in real life. Providing examples of professionals utilizing the tools and processes of science can lead your own children to pursue careers in science, technology, and industry, for which our nation has a growing need.
When planning your field trip it is a good idea to take stock of what’s available in your area, and to consider how far you are willing to travel. Also, how much you can afford to spend plays a factor, since some science-related facilities can be quite pricey, and there are the additional costs of meals and snacks for the day, gas, tolls, and any number of small incidentals that can add up.
Zoos and aquariums.
These are typically the most expensive centers to visit, though worth every penny. The science-related exhibits are gorgeous and provide an eye-opening experience for any age. Generally the staff are knowledgable and helpful, making it a comfortable environment to stimulate curiosity and learning in the public. Often these centers will have a number of programs and activities for folks to participate in while visiting, community outreach and teacher resources, classes and other educational opportunities. With a simple google search you can locate a zoo or aquarium near you!
Planetariums and observatories.
Sometimes we get so engrossed in the day-to-day existence of our lives on Earth, that we forget to look-up and consider the existence of a whole universe beyond the atmosphere of our tiny planet. Visiting a planetarium or observatory in your area is a great way to introduce your family to that concept. With theaters for viewing amazing shows, activities, exhibits, and community outreach programs, you’re sure to inspire a fascination of space in your children.
It seems like discovery museums are popping up all over these days. Geared toward exposing children and families to a wide array of scientific concepts, discovery and science centers want to get kids involved in the hands-on exploration of their world. With engaging exhibits that invite interaction, and friendly staff who strive to involve their communities in the learning process of science, these facilities are a great destination for any family.
Arboretum, nature centers, and state or national parks.
These are designed to get families outdoors, and to help the community to learn more about the natural world around them. Often a nature center or park will be managed by a conservation group, like the Audubon Society, or by state or national government, and are there to preserve wildlife for the enjoyment of the people for generations to come. Many times a park will be formed around a natural landmark, a mountain or waterfall, cave, or up-side down rock. With hiking trails, guided tours, community outreach programs, and more, you’re sure to find something intriguing to you and your children.
Explore various local habitats.
Simply visiting your nearby wetland, forest, cave or meadow you can explore science close to home, and without even spending a dime. Take a back pack to hold your scientific tools, such as binoculars, magnifying glass, camera, field guides, aquatic and/or butterfly nets, rulers, thermometers, and encourage your children to utilize a field or nature journal. Take a snack or picnic lunch, always take water with you. Getting out in your local habitats allows you to observe and wonder about plants and animals and the natural environment, which can open the door to a multitude of scientific-curiosities.
Visit a greenhouse, community garden, or atrium.
This can be a great way to refresh curiosity when you are locked in the cold of the winter months. Learning about plants this way is a wonderful experience, and one that could lead to all sorts of new questions regarding the way the natural world works.
Tour a local farm.
Most folks are only too happy to share their knowledge with homeschoolers. Learn the science behind the way cows’ bodies make milk, or the science of the milking-machines. Compare a commercial farm with an organic farm. Visiting a farm near your home can open your children’s eyes to all the work that is involved in getting their milk and eggs to the kitchen table.
Visit a recycling collection plant.
The green-industry is growing across the nation, chances are good that you have a recycling center near you. Bring your recyclables directly to the facility and take a tour. Your family will learn a lot about how the materials are sorted and what happens to it all after the truck rolls away with your newspaper, cans, and glass.
Go to College
Professors and researchers affiliated with your state universities are another great chance to introduce your family to people who use science processes every day in their work. See if you can get a tour of a laboratory, or maybe tag along when the scientist goes into the field to collect data. Perhaps he will give a talk or demonstration in your home or for your homeschool group. People love to talk about what they do, especially if they are passionate about their work.
Virtual field trips.
There’s a wide variety of field trips available online for free. Many museums, science centers, educational institutes, aquariums and zoos host interactive resources for families to utilize from the comfort of their homes. You can find resources for practically every science-related genre you can think of, and with the newer high-definition screens we receive high-quality images for a stunning educational experience. Make it an event at-home, to view one of these science field-trips together on your computer.
Exploring science this way is fun for the whole family, and opens the door to a wide world of science. Giving your children a better understanding of the world around them, and the processes involved in discovering new information and technologies will assist them in this 21st century society. Celebrate your curiosities together as a family, encourage questioning and free exploration, and foster a life-long scientific nature in your children.