Why Take Field Trips?

Why Take Field Trips?

Our sixth and seventh grade student scientists, accompanied by middle school faculty and working with Phinizy Center for Water Sciences education and research staff, spent a day aboard the boat, The Patriot, exploring the Savannah River, the lifeblood of Augusta.

This field experience gave students an in-depth look at the vital role that the Savannah River plays in the health of our community, as well as the influence of land use on the health of the Savannah River watershed. Students were provided the opportunity to see the big picture of how a watershed plays a key role in the their community while at the same time building team work and confidence.

Each grade level participated in a series of activities during this day long event enhanced with follow- up activities to be completed in the classroom, including the use of additional data collected by SNSA researchers, guest speakers, and engineering applications as well as extended journaling. Students participated in the following sessions:

“Directed” journaling: Students created journal entries and group poetry to capture the experiences of the day.

Watershed investigation: From the boat deck, students observed physical features of the river, such as bank structure, presence of naturally-occurring organic material, substrate, and appearance of water, and discussed how these factors impact the health of the river. Students discussed watershed basics, including topography and human impacts on urban watersheds.

Chemistry: Students collected a water sample and measured various water quality parameters, including dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and nutrient levels. This data was compared with water quality parameters measured by SNSA’s Research datasondes.

Biology: Students collected aquatic macroinvertebrates using Hester-Dendy samplers established at SNSA Research monitoring sites on the river. Students then examined macroinvertebrates with field scopes, identified them using dichotomous keys, and assessed the health of the river based on the biodiversity of macroinvertebrates sampled.

Land exploration: Aboard the Phinizy research boat, students explored the landscape, flora, and fauna along the river, with an emphasis on native and non-native vegetation.

So why take field trips? Field trips expand students’ learning through active hands-on experience within the rich resources of the local community. Field trips increase student knowledge and understanding of a subject and add realism and an authentic connection to the topic of study. Field trips provide students the opportunity to create an investment in their community, to understand the importance their role as stewards of our planet, and to just have fun learning cool stuff!

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