Reverse Field Trips

What is a Reverse Field Trip?

Reverse Field Trips are events where we go into schools with activities for the kids to do, instead of them coming to us on a regular field trip. These Reverse Field Trips are a part of the Summer Quest Program put in place by the Department of Education this summer.


There was a lot of planning involved for this event. I went over the planning part in a lot of detail in my blog post for our Maker Corps blog, but I'll talk a little bit about it here.

We went to three different sites throughout the Bronx with our activities. We had to plan for a bunch of sessions, with different group sizes ranging from 30 kids to 70 and ages 11-14. We began the process by talking with the program directors for the different sites, and figuring out a common theme between the different programs. We decided based on the themes that we saw to make a grid map for each site depending on the themes. Two groups, a 6th grade and a 7th grade were working on specialized themes (Ancient Egypt and the Civil War, respectively) and we made custom maps for those. For the other programs, there themes tended to be related to cities - Dimension, Immigration, Architecture - so we created a city grid that they would put together.

On these maps, the kids would build 3D structures. We brainstormed how to build them, and decided to print different shapes out on paper that they would cut out, design and build. Once that was done, they would place an LED on top, connect it to tin foil and add it to the circuit.

We used a bunch of materials for these events - we used LED's, copper tape, lots of strips of tin foil, markers, paper templates, tape, scissors, cell batteries, battery packs... The list goes on!

We also tied the structure building in to the Mozilla Webmaker tools, so we had a Digital Lab at each location where the kids could make websites about what they had made.

In these events, I wandered around wherever kids needed me. I would help with the circuit map table testing circuits, or also help with cutting and idea generation. I also helped with a bit of the web stuff.


July 17, 2013 Bronx, 1pm-5pm

This was our first of the Reverse Field Trips, so we were excited to see how our ideas would pan out in a real situation, and change things off of that. We ran the activities in the gym of a school during the heat wave, so it was really hot.

For these groups we used the City Map. We had two groups - one group of girls, then another group of boys. The first group of all girls was a little bit overwhelming, and we realized that we needed to have them make their circuits away from the map table that we had set up for them to place their boxes on. Originally, we wanted them to build and place at the same table, but we noticed that it got kind of crazy at the middle table during the event.

We had handed out yellow LED's to each of the participants for them to add to their boxes. We noticed as they were placing them down on the map that the yellow LED's were blowing out, so we had to switch them all out for our green LED's, which ended up working better.

Above you can see some of the final buildings that the kids made on our City Map. Overall I thought this was a great first event - it showed us what we needed to change, but I think it went smoothly enough in itself as well!

Here is the team after our trip to Oasis!

Partnership With Children

July 18 & 19, Bronx, 2pm-4pm

Our days at Partnership With Children were also during the heat wave! For these events we were in their cafeteria. Partnership with Children was the group that had different themes based on age group. 6th grade was Ancient Egypt, 7th grade was the Civil War, and 8th grade was Immigration. For 6th and 7th grade we made custom maps that didn't require that the kids put LED's on top of their buildings, they just taped their boxed to tin foil to complete a circuit and light up an LED on the map itself. These maps were a lot of fun - We built them to have communities for the Ancient Egypt map, and the Civil War map would light up an LED when the different troops at the Battle of Gettysburg had been fully formed.

These days ran pretty smoothly. The groups were smaller than the first day, so they were more manageable. We had some time conflicts with groups, so some groups had more or less time in the digital lab. I think that for these events, we needed to have other activities for the kids to do since they tended to not know what to do after they completed the task. Luckily we brought some popsicle sticks for them to build with and make more stuff! I think this trip really got the kids thinking about their themes and how they could build structures that represent what they're learning. For example, some of the Civil War buildings were really creative.

They also really enjoyed reflecting on the murals that we put up. It was great reading what they thought that they had learned throughout the day. That was something that we all agreed was really useful and we wanted to do it again at the other sites.

Wingspan Arts

July 23 & 24, 2013, Bronx, 1-3pm and 12-2pm

Wingspan was our last Reverse Field Trip! At this point we had our tasks down. Our set up was pretty simple - we were working in the atrium of the school, in a beautifully lit space.

This trip really worked well. We all understood what we needed to be doing and how to organize ourselves. The groups were a little bit smaller, and the first day of 8th grade girls was pretty manageable. The second day with the 6th graders got a little bit crazy, but you could tell that they were excited about what they were learning and wanting to do more.

For this trip we introduced bridge building into our event. We had started brainstorming ideas for our Maker Party activity and wanted to try out how kids would like making bridges out of popsicle sticks and hot glue. There were some kids that got totally into the bridge building and were well on their way to becoming architects! Some of the buildings that they were making got really creative too - one student made a dog park. Another made a ladybug whose nose lit up!

We also got some awesome reflection on our reflection board!

Overall I think that the Reverse Field Trips were a great success! Hopefully we got some kids inspired about building, creating, electronics, design and the web. It was really neat seeing the progression of our ideas as a team and seeing how the final trip was compared to the first one.