Saturday, January 20, 2018

Columbus students, along with teacher Casey Olsen, reflect in their writer’s notebooks while in Yellowstone National Park.

The ultimate class field trip

The 48 students in the Columbus High School sophomore class had the unique opportunity to see all of their hard research in action at the end of April.

After a semester of researching and writing on various topics, ranging from moose to geothermal pools to rules and regulations, the class took a three-day trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful, the Grizzly/Wolf Discovery Center, areas with geothermal activity, and Mammoth Hot Springs were among the locations visited.

At the different sites, rangers and experts discussed the animals, geology, and Native American traditions connected to the park.

Along the way, students had time set aside for exploration and personal reflection.

In the evenings, classes were held to debrief on what the kids learned and experienced during the day.

During a special school board meeting at the end of May, Karsen Marjerison, Braden Ranstrom, and Anna and Marissa Peters presented on their Yellowstone experiences.

Even though it had been a month since the trip, it was as if the students had returned that afternoon. The kids’ excitement and enthusiasm were palpable. The eagerness with which they recounted their favorite memories kept board members engaged for almost 45 minutes.

Marissa Peters described the trip as a “whole new learning experience – it’s something people will remember for a long time.”

When discussing how the park is sometimes taken for granted due to its close proximity, Marjerison said that students should go and experience it and learn from it.

All of the hard work put into biology and English class by students both during the trip’s lead-up, as well as the weeks following their return, seemed to have paid off, as the students recalled facts they had learned, and then experienced first-hand.

Science teacher Robin Hehn and English teacher Casey Olsen, the masterminds of the trip, spoke independently of the positive impact experiential learning had on the students during the trip.

The majority of the trip was funded by the Columbus School District, fundraising by the class, and grants including Humanities Montana and Vocational Rehabilitation Services.

The students are not the only ones excited about the trip’s outcome – Hehn is already brain-storming for next year.

Check out next week’s SCN to read the culmination of the students’ projects.