WAIMEA — Some things, like the smell of sulfur, have to be experienced to be fully understood.
And that’s exactly what the fourth and fifth grade students at Waimea Country School (WCS) did as they hiked the Sulfur Banks Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during a recent overnight learning trip.
“We went hiking a lot,” said WCS student Lacy Goble. “Sulfur Banks was my favorite (hike). When we got there, it smelled horrible. The sulfur was yellow and all over the rocks.”
The students visited different areas within the national park and learned from talks given by the scientists and rangers, hikes, exploring, exhibits and displays.
“I strive to make my classroom a fun, interesting and exciting place to learn, but there is no substitute for getting students out into the real world, where they can see, feel and experience our island’s volcanism and learn from real scientists,” WCS teacher Laurel Matsuda said.
Parents and students agreed.
“WCS’ commitment to adventurous learning like this (volcano) trip is just one of the things that I love about our school ohana,” WCS parent Marc Gordon said, who went on the trip as a chaperone.
“You actually get to touch and hear (while on a learning trip), so you can write about and draw your experiences instead of someone else’s,” WCS student Dahlia Lanclos said.
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park learning trip has been the cornerstone of earth science studies in Waimea Country School’s fourth/fifth multi-age class since 2010, however students in all classes take learning trips that enhance their classroom studies. The K/first multi-age class is studying whales and the second/third multi-age class is studying migration, so they are going together on a whale watch later this month.
“At Waimea Country School we know building strong connections between what students learn in the classroom and what they experience in the real world is vital. These hands-on experiences create valuable, meaningful lessons and the learning deepens,” explained Head of School Amy Salling.