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A field trip or excursion is a journey by a group of people to a place away from their normal environment. When done for students, it is also known as school trip in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, lakbay aral in the Philippines, Ensoku (Ensoku) ('Excursion') in Japan and Klassenfahrt in Germany.
The purpose of the trip is usually observation for education, non-experimental research or to provide students with experiences outside their everyday activities, such as going camping with teachers and their classmates. The aim of this research is to observe the subject in its natural state and possibly collect samples. It is seen that more-advantaged children may have already experienced cultural institutions outside of school, and field trips provide a common ground with more-advantaged and less-advantaged children to have some of the same cultural experiences in the arts.
Field trips are most often done in 3 steps: preparation, activities and follow-up activity. Preparation applies to both the student and the teacher. Teachers often take the time to learn about the destination and the subject before the trip. Activities that happen on the field trips often include: lectures, tours, worksheets, videos and demonstrations. Follow-up activities are generally discussions that occur in the classroom once the field trip is completed.
In Western culture people first come across this method during school years when classes are taken on school trips to visit a geological or geographical feature of the landscape, for example. Much of the early research into the natural sciences was of this form. Charles Darwin is an important example of someone who has contributed to science through the use of field trips.
Popular field trip sites include zoos, nature centers, community agencies such as fire stations and hospitals, government agencies, local businesses, amusement parks, science museums, and factories. Field trips provide alternative educational opportunities for children and can benefit the community if they include some type of community service. Field trips also provide students the opportunity to take a break from their normal routine and experience more hands on learning. Places like zoos and nature centers often have an interactive displays that allow children to touch plants or animals.
Today, culturally enriching field trips are in decline. Museums across the country report a steep drop in school tours. For example, the Field Museum in Chicago at one time welcomed more than 300,000 students every year. Recently the number is below 200,000. Between 2002 and 2007, Cincinnati arts organizations saw a 30 percent decrease in student attendance. A survey by the American Association of School Administrators found that more than half of schools eliminated planned field trips in 2010-11.
A variation on the field trip is the "site-based program" or "site-school" model, where a class temporarily relocates to a non-school location for an entire week to take advantage of the resources on the site. The approach was first developed at the Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada in 1993, and "Zoo School" was inaugurated in 1994. The Calgary Board of Education then approached the Glenbow Museum and Archives to create a "Museum School" in 1995 followed by the Calgary Science Centre (1996), the University of Calgary (1996), Canada Olympic Park (1997), the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary (1998), Calgary City Hall (2000), Cross Conservation Area (2000), the Calgary Stampede (2002), the Calgary Aero-Space Museum (2005), and the Fire Training Academy (2008). One of the newer schools in Calgary is Tinker School and Social Enterprise School at STEM Learning Lab (2018) The model spread across Alberta (with 15 sites in Edmonton alone), throughout Canada and to the United States. Global coordination of the model is through the "Beyond the Classroom Network".
A somewhat similar model in France called classe de mer (sea class), classe de neige (snow class), or classe verte (green class) involving outdoor education trips that last several days, however these may not involve support from museum or zoo staff as in the Canadian model.