One of the mission statements listed on the home page of the School Without Walls (Rochester, N.Y.) states: “We’re developing the personal and academic skills we need to be lifelong explorers, learners, and problem solvers.” It was not a big surprise, then, when Janet Siegel, a science teacher from the high school brought her students to the HWS campus for a Science on Seneca (SOS) field trip to explore firsthand the Seneca Lake environment and to learn about campus life.
The journey began last fall when Siegel took advantage of the bi-annual Science on Seneca training opportunity. She and other science teachers joined faculty from the HWS geoscience, chemistry and biology departments aboard the William Scandling to learn how to use limnological equipment; they then returned with their classes. Because this was such a new experience for both Siegel and her students, Sheila Myers, education outreach coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute and student intern Emma Cochran ’09 assisted on the boat.
After the field trip, the students from School Without Walls had an interactive session with Aisha Rivers ’07 from the Intercultural Affairs Office. Rivers talked about what attracted her to the HWS campus and how she became involved in several clubs and organizations including student government, the Black Student Union and a study abroad program. Finally, the students were taken on a tour of campus with admissions tour guide Emily Clemetson ’11.
Myers developed a Wiki page where students could later post comments about their experience and several did so:
“Hands on experience is one of the only ways I can find to appreciate science as a subject of study, and this was one of the few experiences I’ve had that got me excited to look deeper into a scholastic topic,” wrote one student. “I was on a boat, and got to enjoy the majesty of the dangerously deep mystery.”
“This whole trip made me seriously re-evaluate my role in the environment in general. For the first time, I saw science class as something that I might be able to use after high school. Thank you for the experience,” expressed another student.
Yet another wrote about the opportunity to be on a college campus, “The tour of the campus really introduced us to a different kind of atmosphere and helped us gain hands on scientific work experience. Thanks again.”
This project was made possible by a grant from the Genesee Valley Chapter of the New York Water Environment Association.