Today was a beautiful day for a field trip. We hopped on a chartered bus at 8:30 a.m. and took off for the Indiana Dunes State Park. I had worried that our field trip there would consist of four hours in a park shack listening to lectures, but instead we took a three hour hike through the woods leading to the beach! It was sunny and warm and the leaves were beautiful. For most of our students it was the first time they'd ever hiked, ever seen wetlands, ever been to the dunes... it was a fantastic learning experience and will give them some real-life experiences to draw upon in their science classes.
After spending an additional hour doing volunteer beach cleanup, we jumped back in the bus and drove to the Cooke Nuclear Power Plant which is also along Lake Michigan. I can't say that I really understand more about nuclear power than I did yesterday at this time, but it was a unique experience. The facility was built in the 60's and was eerily reminiscent of the Dharma Initiative. I did learn about how they secure nuclear waste (it involves 3 1/2 feet wide cement walls and some steel), how they transport it, and how many gallons of water it takes per minute to condense the steam (1,500,000 gallons a minute). I did not see Homer Simpson.
Tomorrow my students will begin writing narratives about their field trip experience. I'm looking forward to reading about the moments that impressed them the most and hoping that their narratives do not focus heavily upon the dead cat we saw or the surprise trip to McDonald's that our principal hosted towards the end. I haven't forgotten the first time I assigned field trip narratives and received 20 papers entitled "The Time Joe Puked on the Bus".