FIELD TRIPS HELP RAISE AWARENESS AND INTEREST IN BERMUDA AND THE WORLD BEYOND
By Peter Backeberg
Students often eagerly anticipate the chance to go on a field trip. It is an opportunity to break free from the everyday routine of the classroom for a bit of fun and excitement.
As it turns out, educators are just as keen to get their students out into the community, for the educational opportunities. “Field trips are both included in the curriculum and encouraged,” says Dr Llewellyn Simmons, the director of academics at the Department of Education.
“They align with the different disciplines, in particular, the sciences, social studies, career pathways, and the arts. The research and evidence show that (field trips) expose students to real world learning opportunities and experiences.”
Despite Bermuda’s size there is a wide array and variety of quality field trips both locally and overseas. In fact, the overseas trips are “common practice” starting at the primary level and continuing throughout the school years.
Some involve select groups of students, such as student leaders attending conferences like the Youth Model United Nations or teams participating in sporting or debate competitions. Others are offered to a wider set of students and are often multipurpose.
“An example would be a college tour that includes cultural and historical experiences,” explains Dr Simmons. “One popular trip is visiting the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. This goes back at least as far as 2001, when Bermuda was featured in the Institute’s Folk Life Festival.”
The key, says Dr Simmons, is that field trips are “purposeful, planned, and feature active learning for the students.” These criteria are met by providing opportunities that are not regularly experienced by students, expose them to aspects of natural history and culture, and include an educational element.
Locally, some organisations actively include learning that is connected to the school curriculum, such as the Bermuda National Trust, which has published 12 teacher resource guides that are linked to the curriculum laid out by the Ministry of Education’s social studies and Cambridge science curriculums.
“We are very happy with the partnership between the National Trust and public education,” says Dr Simmons.
“Another example is a visit to BIOS to go onboard the (Atlantic) Explorer ship or to snorkel at Northrock. Many of our students are never given the opportunity to snorkel off the shoreline let alone all the way out at Northrock. How many even own a mask and snorkelling gear?”
It is this level of exploration that Dr Simmons says can really open up students minds to the possibilities of their home country: “If we don’t share these aspects of Bermuda with our children, exposing them to it in a real-world way, then we are not exposing them to the greater possibilities of what’s around us.
“We have some truly unique aspects to both human and natural life on the Island – there’s a lot packed into these 21 square miles.”
To illustrate this point, below is a sample of additional field trips (not mentioned above) that are available to students in Bermuda throughout the school year.
Bermuda National Gallery (BNG)
Located in City Hall in Hamilton, BNG offers free art tours to all schools. These can be linked with the classroom curriculum to support class studies and projects as needed. All school visits must be booked in advance.
Bermuda Society of Arts (BSoA)
Bermuda’s oldest art gallery offers a variety of options for school visits depending on the exhibits, which change every three weeks. Teachers are encouraged to call ahead to learn more about BSoA exhibits and how to plan their trip to the gallery.
Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI)
The BUEI School Programme offers a wide variety of topics that connect the marine environment to the Cambridge science and math framework and the Bermuda social studies curriculum. Students are immersed in hands-on lessons and labs, and may also take part in guided exhibit tours, scavenger hunts and presentations on recent discoveries in ocean exploration.
Bermuda Zoological Society (BZS)
BZS is the support charity for the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ). Examples of BZS field trips include Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve, Paget Marsh, Spittal Pond and, of course, interactive experiences at BAMZ. The trips include adventure hikes and discussions on topics like habitat restoration and conservation, Kindley Field history, including NASA, and plant identifications.
Dolphin Quest hosts school groups at their facility at the National Museum of Bermuda in Dockyard, to learn about dolphins and other sea creatures through fun and engaging activities. These experiences can include dolphin interactions, classroom experiences and a 6-lesson mini-series tied to the Ministry of Education and Cambridge curriculum.
Hartley’s Undersea Walk
This helmet diving experience has been a staple of Bermuda’s tourism offerings since 1947. As a field trip it is an opportunity for students experience Bermuda’s underwater world in a truly unique way. Dives take place in 8-10 feet of water and less than two miles offshore. Teachers should call ahead to learn more and discuss possible pricing options for schools.
National Museum of Bermuda (NMB)
NMB promotes the preservation, understanding, and enjoyment of Bermuda’s cultural heritage. School visits are free and self-guided. However, NMB does provide advice about content and structure of visits and host a Teacher Resources page on their website at: nmb.bm/learn/teacher-resources.
MULTI-DAY FIELD TRIPS
Born out of Bermuda’s hosting of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, Endeavour is a five-day experiential programme featuring a science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) curriculum through Sailing. Concepts including buoyancy, wind power and measurement, sailing geometry and sailing fundamentals. In addition, there are lessons about Bermuda’s maritime history, weather patterns, and health and nutrition. The programme is offered to every first-year middle school student at most of Bermuda’s public and private schools.
Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF)
Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF) is entering its 15th year of providing award-winning experiential learning/sail training experiences aboard the Spirit of Bermuda (Spirit). Considered a rite of passage for middle schoolers, Spirit’s programme has been described as “one of the most engaging and beneficial programmes available to adolescents.” The programme’s objectives are Skills Development, Social-Emotional Learning and connection to Bermuda’s environment and unique history. Students learn every aspect of sailing Spirit; Hands-on learning is key – all learn to prepare, plan, navigate, sail and better understand the natural world while developing essential life skills for success.