Experiential Learning Opens the World for Students

Photo gallery

Middleburgh Central School District Superintendent Mark Place has been able to say “yes” to a lot of teacher requests for field trip approval this year. He has said “yes” over 100 times. That’s because the district has placed a priority on experiential learning both inside and outside the classroom.

“We know that in terms of being able to meet all of our goals at Middleburgh, we have to have students experience things beyond Middleburgh,” said Place. 

Students in grades Pre-K through 12 were on the road to learning with experiences that let them connect with stingrays, observe the power grid in action, touch a millennia-old limestone corridor and so much more. Field trips were as local as a walk to the Middleburgh Fire Station or as distant as a plane ride to Europe. Several times this year, the district flipped the field trip experience around and brought outside resources, like a traveling planetarium, into our schools.

Guidance counselor Paul Pierce says there are countless benefits to extending classroom learning for students.

“So much of learning comes from traveling,” stated Pierce, who traveled with students to England and France. “It’s just really neat to live and experience another person’s culture or another country’s culture.”

Matthew Sloane, principal of MCS Jr./Sr. High School says this is especially true for students who live in a rural area.

“We live in a small town, and so often these students don’t get the opportunity to explore other areas,” Sloane said. During a trip to witness the solar eclipse within the cone of totality, he stated: “It’s the experience. You know, we’re all getting on buses and going to a new location to witness something that probably will be the only time we get to witness it in our life.”

Superintendent Place also notes that each trip was enhanced because students were able to take these learning adventures together.

“The most important thing for me is that we were able to experience it (the eclipse) together, where some of our students wouldn’t have had the opportunity had the school not provided it.”

The eclipse was just one of many unforgettable experiences for students.

“Just seeing everything get dark and then the reactions of everyone around, like the clapping and the cheering for it, it was cool,” said junior Aster McGiver.

Kelso Bates is in second grade and loved a field trip to the Via Aquarium, “The aquarium was my favorite field trip because I got to see a lot of fish and geckos and lizard-type things. I liked looking at those because I have my own lizard at home, but the ones we saw were bigger and they had a lot of different kinds. It was cool!” 

Grade eight student Gabrielle Morrison picked the field trip to the Bronx Zoo as her favorite, saying “I liked all the different animals and I learned about their habitats.”

“I liked going to see (the musical) Six at Proctors Theater,” said junior Ellie Shaul. “Our history teacher took us on that trip and I liked the singing and dancing.”

While the trips have created memories to last a lifetime, it’s the future that is at the heart of the experiential learning effort.

“MCS Knights succeed because we continue to provide opportunities for our students that prepare them for the world beyond Middleburgh,” said Place.

Here is just a small sample of our favorite learning experiences photos from this year: 

(Click any photo to enlarge.)