Experiences in the field are considered an essential part of the STS program. STS is committed to providing important opportunities for experiential education throughout the Elementary and Middle School years. Field trips challenge our students academically, physically, socially, and emotionally, and when engaged in learning beyond the classroom walls, we frequently see our students experience a paradigm shift in understanding or a special moment in bonding with peers and adults. Advanced learners need to experience experts in the field, and school field trips frequently offer this opportunity. Examples of field experiences include:
- Class day field trips
- Overnight trips
- Service learning trips
- Club/afterschool class trips
- Academic competitions
- Sports/Athletics trips
Parents are welcome on most trips as chaperones and drivers. Trip leaders will indicate how many parents are required, as well as the needed roles and responsibilities.
Class Day Trips
Class day trips or overnight trips are driven by a relevant connection with the academic program. Many of these are not pre-determined each year, but occur as special exhibitions or events come to town, or reflect a parent’s or a teacher’s unique connection within the community.
There are several trips that have become “traditions” within particular grades. However, many other trips are experienced beyond the list below.
1st – 3rd Grades
The lower elementary years see a variety of trips centered on key science or social studies topics. 1st Graders study habitats, especially water habitats, and this brings them to analyze the pond at Medina Park, exploring scientific phenomena in a hands-on approach. The 2nd Graders study Northwest aquatic and terrestrial life, and this includes a trip to the Seattle Aquarium as our students study the food chain in the context of sea life. The 3rd Graders visit Mercer Slough as part of their study of ecology and sustaining systems. They also visit the Burke Museum as part of their study of Native Americans.
4th Grade: Northwest Days
The 4th Grade program includes a special regional study of the Northwest. Our 4th Graders will experience a series of trips to local venues as part of a series known as Northwest Days. Part of this course includes a study of all the differing cultural influences on Seattle and the Northwest regions. Northwest Days may include trips such as the following: Wing Luke Museum, Northwest African American Museum, Klondike National Park, Museum of History and Industry, Seattle Times newspaper plant, and the Northwest Folklife Festival.
The 5th Grade is a busy time with many trips connected to Humanities and Science. These include a visit the Pacific Marine Science Afloat as part of their Oceanography course, where students board a Pacific Marine Research vessel and study marine life first-hand on Puget Sound through a series of biological and water-related experiments.
The 6th Grade year usually includes a visit to the Seattle Art Museum as connections between Humanities and Art themes are explored or interesting cultural exhibits come to the region such as the exhibits on the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits and Roman political sculpture. Students in Grades 4-6 experience an annual trip to the Seattle Symphony as well. The students have many service learning projects, and leadership training which can include presenting at the IslandWood “Make a Difference” Summit.
IslandWood is a magical place on Bainbridge Island where our students experience science concepts and team challenges in a stunningly beautiful rural setting for 4 days. This trip occurs at the start of the 5th Grade year, bringing both 5th Grade classes together for a truly special bonding experience that centers upon fostering teamwork, community, and a sense of civic responsibility. Students emerge from their experience as responsible, motivated Middle Schoolers, ready to meet the challenges the rest of the year brings.
The Washington, D.C. Trip
The 5th Grade D.C. trip has been a culminating experience following two years of study of US history, geography, and culture. This transformative trip has long been part of STS tradition. History comes to life as the walls of the classroom expand to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Monticello, Gettysburg, and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Everything that they see will have been a focus over two years of study, and upon return, students engage in activities across curricula areas.
Reflecting changes in the Social Studies curriculum, the sequence will be changing. This year’s 5th Grade class will go to D.C. in May 2012. In August 2012, the Social Studies program will see Ancient Civilizations moved from 6th Grade to be taught in 5th Grade, and US History Part II will instead be taught in 6th Grade. The D.C. trip will occur during spring 2014, and each following spring for all subsequent 6th Grade classes.
The Rome Trip
The current 6th Grade Rome trip represents an amazing field experience for our 6th Graders as they complete a year-long study of ancient civilizations, with a particular focus upon Roman civilization. This occurs in conjunction with their first introductory course in Latin. The students are prepared in depth for the trip and are armed with a website task that incorporates learning objectives from Art, Technology, Latin, Social Studies, and Language Arts classes. This interweaving of curricula areas for such a project like this is one of the signature elements of the St. Thomas program and allows for students to grapple with concepts in greater depth.
This international trip represented the culminating experience for our 6th Graders before Graduation. As the school is now expanding to 8th Grade, the international trip will be moved. The last time 6th Graders will go to Rome will be in May 2012. The international trip from then on will take place in 8th Grade, beginning in May 2014.
The 7th Grade Trip
The first overnight 7th Grade trip will occur for those students of the 2012-2013 school year. Part of the 7th Grade Social Studies program will focus on Washington State history and geography as well as a broader view of the Pacific region. Reflecting the love of physical and mental challenges, the 7th Grade trip will be an outdoor Northwest experience where opportunities to test themselves within the region’s deserts, mountains, forests, and/or coasts will be offered.
The 8th Grade Trip
The first overnight 8th Grade trip will occur for those students of the 2013-2014 school year. This trip will be carefully crafted to parallel the type of experiences offered to our current 6th Graders as part of their culminating experience. It will be rooted in the 8th Grade program and will offer a transformative experience to our young adolescents. As we build this trip, the students’ experience of their foreign language choice will be considered, and relevant opportunities for service learning experiences will also be considered.