Lawrence North High School juniors studying US History won’t just be sitting in their classes each day. Every year, the junior Interdisc classes are required to come up with and present a virtual field trip for the entire class to partake in, including the teachers. The project takes place early in the first semester and is to be fun and creative.
The project is designed to educate the students about different time periods throughout history while getting out of the classroom at the same time. The students are expected to do all of the research and present their findings to the class.
Last year, the class was divided into three groups: The Revolutionary War era, The Jacksonian era, and The Gilded age, containing about 12 students each. The size of the group depends on how many time periods are examined. Each group had to portray historical events from their time period using various activities. For example, last year a game of dodgeball was used to represent a major historical battle.
“The positive aspects of the trip is that it forces students to work w/people in the class that they normally would not and they have to learn to cooperate and accomplish a major task,” said teacher Rachel Layman. “It also motivates them to do a good job since they know their peers are going to be active participants and also will be making some comparisons and no one wants their field trip to evaluated in a negative manner. The students get to be creative and figure out how to teach the subject matter in an engaging way.”
The title “virtual field trip” is somewhat misleading. The trip is not virtual at all. Each group has to plan real activities for the class to participate in and actually go through with it. Each group had to pick a place to hold the field trip. The location has to be decorated to look like the time period. So the term “virtual” comes from the idea that one is in another time period. This year, junior Kristin Olson’s group’s field trip is being held at her house.
“We wanted to have it in a private area so we could set up the night before without having any complications,” said Olson. The 20 people in Olson’s group are responsible for learning about the Revolutionary War Era, starting in the mid-1700s. Some of the major historical events they have to cover are the signing of the Declaration of Independence and various battles leading up to the revolutionary war.
“We have lots of ideas [about what to do for the activities]. We are going to have a store, and we have an idea for a campfire. We have lots of different things to do. We might have a battle reenactment,” said Olson. Olson is excited to dive into the field trips coming up soon. “We’re looking forward to it. We’ve already put in a lot of effort and time and I think people are going to have fun,” said Olson. Olson is not the only one excited. “I think they’ll be fun because it’s getting outside the classroom. It’s better than doing boring projects,” said junior Mary Harton, also a member of the Interdisc class.
Senior Taylor Mansmann was in the Jacksonian group last year, detailing the time of Jackson’s presidency. “We had a mock election, we burned down a bank, and we dressed up like Indians crossing the Trail of Tears,” said Mansmann. Some of the other activities included a game of capture the flag to symbolize the struggle between the Patriots and Loyalists and a game of Red Rover to symbolize immigration.
“I liked it because I like interacting with other people and we got out of class for a day,” said Mansmann. “It was better than sitting through a lecture all day.”
By Leah Dover, North Star