Students engage in experiential learning on Florida trip
Last updated 4/19/2018 at Noon
Experiential learning, made possible by engaging directly in the topics at hand instead of working in a traditional in-class environment, is arguably the most effective strategy for student growth.
The trip was organized through WorldStride, a company dedicated to “igniting personal growth through educational travel and study abroad.”
Local students joined the group of seven million students that have engaged in experiential learning across the globe with WorldStride in the 50 years since the company’s foundation.
While WorldStride organized the trip, agricultural educator and FFA Adviser for Lind-Ritzville Middle School Amanda Klindworth coordinated local efforts and fundraising.
Of her motivation to initiate the process of the trip last spring, she explained, “I talked to a few other teachers that had done this with their students and after looking in to it.”
Klindworth added, “It seemed like it would be a great experience for our students and something that they would be interested in.”
Pursuing WorldStride’s most popular middle school trip, “Splash Into Science,” the students, now in grades seven through nine, had the opportunity to tour a turtle hospital, engage in a biodiversity lab, help clean trash off a local beach, kayak through a Mangrove forest, swim with dolphins, snorkel through a coral reef, and much more.
Needless to say, the students had a memorable experience: “Snorkeling was an amazing opportunity to view the Atlantic Ocean and all of the marine life it contains,” said student Julia Klein.
She added, “The dolphins were also something us students from Washington don’t get to see very often.”
Ashlynn Norton stated of her experience, “Swimming with dolphins was nothing like anything I’ve ever done before.”
Jay Harder appreciated the opportunity to having fun while learning: “I enjoyed kayaking through the Mangroves because not only did we learn about the three unique types of mangroves, but we saw lots of creatures along the way.”
“Snorkeling was a fun experience,” he continued, “because I got to see all of the species that the coral reefs sustain.”
As the trip was educational, environmental science, ecology, and biology were integrated constantly. From watching turtles have surgery, to observing the effects of invasive species, to discussing the importance of ecosystem services, the students applied knowledge from the classroom to the real world.
Unsurprisingly, the students were strongly affected by the trip.
Klindworth explained, “Everything was completely new. We were surrounded by water everywhere we went. They wildlife was completely new, down to the iguanas in the parking lots. The plant life was all new—the students particularly loved that there were palm trees everywhere.”
As a result, students have the opportunity to engage in online coursework from their experiences in exchange for science credit.
“Beyond all… the science content that they learned and experienced,” Klindworth added, “they learned how to be proficient travelers.”
The students, too, recognize the monumental effects and accompanying growth from their short trip.
Klein said, “The trip influenced me to be more aware of the environment. We had the chance to learn and view the facts first-hand on how human interactions affect our environment and the ecosystems.”
She recalled, “It made all of us more aware that how we handle our resources does have an impact.”
Similarly, Harder reflected, “This trip influenced me to be more open minded about the world around us. Being able to go to Florida has really changed my perspective on how other people and animals live their lives.”
Overall, Klindworth concluded, “It was a great balance between being recreational and educational and the experience that they gained will hopefully help them continue to grow.”