What's the Value of a Field Trip?

students on field tripField trips are a popular addition to school life. They allow students to see different places and have experiences they might not be familiar with. They can also give students real-world experiences that can better help them understand how what they are learning in school is important outside of school. Plus they’re often a lot of fun!

But field trips can be expensive, as popular field trip spots often require an entry fee. Additional costs include paying for transportation and meals. Some people also suggest that field trips do not support learning and that students would be better served staying in class.

One alternative to a field trip in the 21st century is using technology for a virtual field trip. Students can participate in virtual field trips with their teacher from their classroom using a website from a museum, zoo, or other popular field trip destination. Or they can use videoconferencing, like Skype, to talk with people in other places to gain some real-world perspectives.

While virtual field trips might seem to be a less expensive option, some people believe virtual field trips don't provide students the same benefit as actually visiting a museum, zoo, or other site.

Your job is to review the documents below and take a stance on whether you and your fellow fifth graders should be allowed to participate in field trips, and what type. Should you be allowed to go on actual field trips? How often? Or should the school incorporate virtual field trips where you don’t leave the building? What are the costs associated with your choice? How can you justify any costs?

Directions: You will write a letter to the principals in your school and the superintendent’s office for Martinsville City Schools. Your response should include:

You can use Microsoft Word to compose your letter, if you prefer. When you are done, use this form to submit your letter to the principals and superintendent: Click Here to Submit Your Form (link disabled).

Cost Data

Some Costs for Local Field Trips

  • Science Museum of Western Virginia (Roanoke) = $6 per student
  • Mill Mountain Zoo (Roanoke) = $5 per student
  • Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville) = $5 per student
  • Poplar Forest (Forest, VA) = $2 per student

Estimated Costs for a Virtual Field Trip

Not all museums and organizations charge for a virtual field trip, but some do. Examples are the National World War II Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. For this activity, estimate the cost of a virtual field trip to be $100 for each Internet connection required to participate.

Document Library: