Field trips are an excellent way to underscore lessons and help students understand that what they learn in the classroom can be applied to real life. When developing field trips for chemistry students, a teacher needs to focus on demonstrations of professional chemistry that are dramatic, entertaining and hopefully point out the career options available to somebody trained as a chemist.
Sewage Treatment Plant
Most cities and towns are within driving distance of a sewage treatment plant. A tour of the plant will teach students about the chemistry behind water purity, pH factor, pollution and some kinds of disease. Pair this field trip with classroom labs on filtering or purifying water.
Countless products require the use of specialized chemicals or mixtures of chemicals in order to get made. If you can get access to a plant where students can see the result of professional chemistry it can be an unforgettable experience. Some good examples would be metal (where elements are mixed to create different grades of steel), computer components (where chemicals are used to create raw materials and others are used to make them market-ready) or plants where chemicals themselves are prepared for sale.
Pyrotechnics is a branch of applied chemistry. Most metropolitan areas have a day or two a year where the police blow up confiscated ammunition and explosives. Though not the most educational field trip imaginable, this will definitely be one of the most popular. Contact your local police department to get this ball rolling, and definitely get permission from your administrator.
Fire is a chemical reaction, and fire suppression depends on other chemical reactions. A trip to the fire department can show students how knowing the way chemicals can interact will save lives. As firefighting is a high-glamour job, this field trip can attract students who otherwise seem disinterested in chemistry.
- Interview with Katherine Brick, Public School Teacher, Hillsboro, OR
- Special thanks to Mr. Tennyson, High School Chemistry Teacher, who showed us how to blow stuff up.
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