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Field Trips Support Learning, Connection for ARC Students

April 29, 2022

ARC students usually conduct their school days online, connecting through Zoom with their instructors and classmates. However, field trips have been utilized to provide hands-on learning experiences and in-person connections.

In April, elementary students in the program visited Forest ReLeaf’s tree nursery Communitree Gardens in St. Louis County for a service learning project, where they planted 300 seedling trees. The mission of Forest ReLeaf is to restore and sustain urban forests by planting trees and enriching communities.

“This field trip was unique in that it had a service-learning opportunity,” ARC Coordinator Doug Barton said. “This was an involved project. They planted 300 seedling trees. Overall, the organization will plant 9,000 total this spring.” 

ARC, which stands for Accelerated and Remote Courses, was designed in summer 2020 to provide virtual learning during the pandemic and to allow personalized learning for K-12 students. This year, the program has had five in-person field trips.

“There is always some sort of a learning connection to the field trip,” Barton said. “At the beginning of the year, part of it was about getting our specials teachers (art, music, physical education) out to meet with the students in addition to the classroom teachers.”

The first two field trips this school year were conducted at local parks. There were lessons created by the teachers and students had time to connect with their classmates in person.

Additionally, the students have visited MADE for Kids, which is run by The Magic House and created in collaboration with the Cortex Innovation Community. The space is designed for kids ages 4-14 to use their imaginations to create in multiple forms such as screen-printing, laser cutting, stop-motion animation, 3D printing, pottery and more. 

In the winter, the students visited Steinberg Ice Skating Rink in Forest Park.

“Most of the kids had not ice skated before,” Barton said. “It gave the students a chance to get a lot of exercise and have fun with their friends. It was a unique space.”

These field trips are also used for students to exchange books. 

“The other side of it is that we always set up a resource or book exchange for kids to trade in books for new ones,” Barton said. “It helps them get access to different books.”

Overall, the field trips have been a great experience for students to see each other offline and in person, building on their friendships with classmates. According to Barton, they have all become friends online and their typical playground is a shared Minecraft space. Minecraft is a popular video game that allows users to create their own 3D world utilizing their imagination.

“It’s a digital space that lets them hang out and talk,” Barton said. “They have a shared space in the game that they all use. It’s really cool for them to get to meet in-person at these field trip excursions.”

Barton said plans are being made for a final field trip to happen in May before the end of the school year.