Half a million school kids visit HMNS each year. They come from the Metro Area and all around. From the Woodlands to Westgate, no matter where in the Houston area their school is a kid is likely to visit us eventually. But the field trips mean different things to different students. Some kids have visited us before with their families. For them, the museum is an opportunity to show off their knowledge to their friends and maybe even teach their teacher an interesting fact they picked up from a docent on a previous visit! Other kids are amazed to see imagination become reality when they come face to face with real dinosaurs and mummies! For other kids,though, the trips mean much more.
Teachers often fill out the comment forms that are available at our information desk, sometimes thanking us for such a great experience, other times making suggestions for new exhibits. We love hearing all comments, but one we received a couple months ago has really made an impression on our staff. A teacher from a Houston area school wrote that for many of his students their field trip to the museum was the first time they had left their neighborhood. He described how important our field trip programs are to students like his. After hearing about this, I decided to reach out to him for an interview. Below are the questions and his responses.
- Of the students who attended the event, what percentage would you estimate had never left their neighborhood? What factors affect student transportation?
I would estimate approximately 75% of my students have never left their neighborhood. Money, lack of transportation and lack of opportunity all effect student transportation.
- Describe the reaction of the students to the exhibits. Were they excited? Did they ask questions? Were they familiar with the subjects of all of the exhibits?
My students were very excited – even the ones that ‘pretended’ they were not before the trip – “too cool to learn or be interested”. Every exhibit visited came with an array of student questioning from the vague to the very specific.
- How did their level of participation during museum activities compare to their daily classroom participation?
I try to do a lot of hands-on activities in my classroom – and allowing the students the chance to see and interact with the material and exhibits increases learning and motivation.
- In your opinion, how does HMNS positively affect surrounding communities? Is there a particular program that you like to have your students participate in?
The HMNS provides a platform for schools and families to learn about the natural and man-made world. Any opportunity provided by the HMNS involving hands-on, experiments, or project based learning would be of great benefit to students of all ages.
- What is the importance of school field trips and out of classroom activities in general?
School field trips create an opportunity for students to expand their knowledge of the world. Getting out of the classroom helps to show the students that learning is all around them, every day. This makes learning meaningful and relevant to student lives.
HMNS is not only a fun place to visit, it’s a place where kids can get out of the classroom and experience science first hand. Whether it’s towering above them in the form of a giant dinosaur, or glittering before their eyes in the form of a precious gem, each piece in our exhibit has a great lesson to teach.
To learn more about field trips at HMNS, you can follow this link to our website!