Field Trips that Matter: Taking STEM Beyond the Classroom

March 19, 2024

Some of a child’s best memories come from field trips. Whether it’s riding a school bus on their way to a new adventure or escaping their day-to-day lives for a unique experience, a field trip provides lasting memories that can spark interest in subjects like science and math.

The coordinators of the Girls’ Club at Actua’s Network Member WISE Kid-Netic Energy at the University of Manitoba enhance their weekly gatherings through field trips where youth can actively explore STEM in their community. 

To share how STEM is present all over their community, WISE Kid-Netic Energy arranged two field trips for members of its Girls’ Club in 2023. Recognizing the diverse interests among the participants, the organizers strategically planned field trips to align with these preferences.

First stop: The Buller Greenhouse!

During a field trip to Buller Greenhouse at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Carla Zelmer, Curator of the Buller Greenhouse Teaching and Outreach Collection, shared her expertise and guided the youth through the greenhouse. The girls explored the world of plants and greenhouse structures and even ventured into the greenhouse lab. 

Equipped with dissecting microscopes, the girls conducted a detailed examination of plants, combining the scientific knowledge gained during the field trip with a more practical exploration of flowers and plants. This adventure to their local greenhouse gave the girls an opportunity to explore what STEM looks like outside of the classroom and what a career working with plants could look like.

Two girls at a greenhouse looking at a green plant

Next stop: The Assiniboine Park Zoo!

Another field trip that stood out to the youth was to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, where the girls learned about STEM careers that involve working with animals. The girls explored Arctic tundra survival and the symbiotic relationship between humans and wildlife. Led by mentors and scientists, engaging activities provided the girls insight into animal adaptations, which are traits that help animals survive and reproduce in their environment, as well as hands-on experiences, such as holding a Giant African Snail. 

The girls’ eagerness for more field trips reflected the trip’s success, while instructors gained valuable insights into zoo-related career opportunities. By showcasing the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s conservation efforts, from grassland butterflies to snow leopards, the trip empowered the next generation of scientists to actively contribute to preserving vulnerable species and safeguarding global biodiversity.

A group of young girls in front of a Churchill Voyage sign at the Assiniboine Park Zoo
A group a young girls holding Giant African Snails at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The Transformative Impact of Engaging Girls in STEM

Actua’s National Girls Program and network member WISE Kid-Netic Energy are paving the way for increased representation of girls and other equity-deserving youth in STEM fields. At WISE Kid-Netic Energy’s Girls Club, participants grow more confident, build new friendships and become more comfortable engaging in STEM.

“Getting to know all of the participants is one of the things I like most about Girls Club,” said Wynonna Mendoza, an instructor at WISE Kid-Netic Energy. Seeing them make friends and telling me about how their week went is why I enjoy being an instructor. I get to help create a space for them to learn more about STEM that they want to come back to.” 

By providing engaging sessions, hands-on experiences and supportive environments, these programs are shaping the future of STEM education and inspiring a new generation of leaders.