Students can go to Conner Prairie to see Indiana history come alive or to the Indianapolis Zoo to watch animals.
Local elementary school teachers have also used the annual field trip day to take a walking tour of Franklin, visit and hike in state parks and check out the exhibits at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
While parents are used to paying part of the entrance fee to museums or the zoo for field trips, school districts have to plan ahead to cover the other costs, such as transportation. And educators have to make sure the trip directly relates to an academic standard students are expected to learn.
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Oh, and the kids should enjoy it.
The number of field trips elementary school students across the county are allowed to take vary widely, from one for Center Grove and Clark-Pleasant students to four for some Franklin students.
They all have to be educational.
“(Teachers) have to write up how the field trip will match standards and be incorporated,” Indian Creek Elementary School Principal Keith Grant said. “Any field trip you have can be turned into an academic standard.”
Most schools spend hundreds of dollars on buses to transport the elementary school students to their destination.
In some districts, local schools’ parent-teacher organizations raise the gas money for field trips and extra money to pay admission for a needy student.
Gas and bus costs for a trip can top hundreds of dollars for a school or whole grade trip for students going on a longer trip in central Indiana.
Students at East Side Elementary School in Edinburgh participate in a walk-a-thon once a year to help finance the buses that take them to their field trips.
Each trip can cost between $120 to $170 to take a class on their trip, East Side principal Andy Scholl said.
The walk-a-thon brings in about $10,000 annually. That money is then used to pay for field trips and technology in the school, Scholl said.
Elementary school students in Greenwood can go on one field trip annually paid for by the school district. Any additional trips would have to be paid for with fundraising or funded by a sponsor such as a school’s PTO, Assistant Superintendent Todd Pritchett said.
Costs for each field trip can vary widely, with a quick jaunt across the county to Kelsay Farms costing $40 or $50, to $200 for a trip that takes more buses a few counties away, he said.
Greenwood’s average is $163, he said.
Technology such as Skype have made it easier for students to connect to just about anyone in the world using the internet and a computer.
That technology hasn’t cut back on the field trips students take and what they do on the trips, educators said.
In some instances nothing beats actually going to the museum, farm or state park, educators said.
Elementary school students in Center Grove are allowed to take one trip per grade level.
For example, Center Grove fourth graders go to Conner Prairie each year to learn about Indiana history, which is an academic standard that year, said Connie Allen, a first grade teacher at Center Grove Elementary School.
Before nearly every trip, Center Grove students will spend time talking about literature and other lessons that connect with the destination, she said. Some of these lessons can’t be done in the classroom, she said.
“I just love to broaden my kid’s horizons and open their eyes to the world,” she said.