Last fall, San Fernando Valley Academy (SFVA) students spent four days on a cross-curricular field study tour, visiting local museums and other locales in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange counties to complement their studies in science, math, English, history, and P.E.
“The inspiration was to have a change from the four walls that the students—and teachers—see every day,” said Joel Kindrick, English and history teacher at SFVA and also one of three teacher-leaders of the tour days. “We wanted to do something that the entire school could do together.”
On the first day, students got in touch with local animal history at the Natural History Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Afterward, a visit to the California Science Center allowed them to watch, and later try, physics and chemistry experiments.
History was the primary focus on day two. Students went to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, where they saw actual Apollo 11 equipment. Students also saw the president’s birth home, his current resting place, and exhibits on the important historical events in between. Later, they traveled to Independence Hall at Knott’s Berry Farm, where the resident historian told them about the inception of the Declaration of Independence. They then were able to watch a drama about the founding fathers and their debate leading to the signing of this important document. Next, they headed to San Pedro to visit the USS Iowa, where experienced military docents led them on a tour of the ship and taught them about its history and its many military voyages.
Day three took SFVA students to the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, where students learned about the Japanese- American experience during World War II in the United States. “This was sobering for the students,” Kindrick said. However, the mood shifted from seriousness to excitement when the archivist pulled out a copy of Kindrick’s master’s thesis about that time period to show them. From there, the group headed to Los Angeles’ birthplace: Olvera Street. From the first fire station to the oldest adobe building, they experienced what the Spaniards might have felt and seen when they first entered this area. Next, they went to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.
Day four brought the students to Simi Valley to witness the Veterans Day ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The students also had the opportunity to explore this museum with all its artifacts, culminating in Air Force One, which is housed there. The students concluded their field study tour days by visiting DojoBoom, a trampoline park in Thousand Oaks. Here, they received their physical education credit from activities on trampolines, rock climbing walls, rope courses, and other similar equipment.
“As fun as the activities were,” Kindrick reflected, “all the students still had work to do.” They were given worksheets to complete and were required to take pictures documenting what they learned each day. These materials were sent to the teachers to be recorded for their grades.
“The students look forward to the spring cross-curriculum field study,” Kindrick said. “The plan is to go north and visit sites pertinent to American authors like John Steinbeck, John Muir, and Mark Twain.”
–By Joel Kindrick