Often teachers will approach me with a general idea for a trip to a certain destination. I work closely with educators to customize tours that reflect their curriculum and provide fun and interesting sites on the itinerary.
Heather Stevens is school Coordinator for Overseas Educational Tours. She is a Para Educator for pre-kindergarten through fifth graders at Purvis Primary school in Bermuda. She needed guidance and ideas for an educational trip to Orlando. Stevens wanted her students to visit Walt Disney World, and engage in the study of science.
Walt Disney World in Florida has some excellent science-focused educational programs in their Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.). There are some specific programs geared towards the science student: Synergy in Science (Epcot Center), Wild by Nature (Animal Kingdom), Seaworld Education Program and Physics – Energy & Waves (Magic Kingdom). Disney World exhibits are used as examples of the direct application of technology and science. This hands on learning experience is fun and educational for students.
The Principal, Deputy Principal and teachers scheduled the student group for all of the programs mentioned above. Student favorites included Animation Magic, Physics – Energy & Waves and Animals of Florida. “The students have been learning about animals and their habitats,” commented Stevens, “and we have an annual science fair each February.” She continued, “the YES Programs about Everyday Chemistry and Physics were a great tie in for our students as well.”
Students also participated in the Synergy in Science Program at Epcot Center, where children are taught about the creativity and technology behind Disney’s entertainment programs. “The students were thrilled. Many spoke about their experiences in Epcot in their journal,” said Stevens.
Stevens feels the trip to Walt Disney World was a useful learning tool because:
a. Children are able to relate to hands on activities.
b. Students retain a lot of information given.
c. Many of the students enjoy the movement.
d. This type of experience taps into a variety of learning styles.
During the trip to Walt Disney World, students were asked to keep a reflective journal. When they returned to Purvis Primary school in September 2010, the writing was shared by students at “an assembly of the entire school, where they gave details about the trip and shared pictures,” according to Stevens.
Students are more likely to retain the information acquired during active learning experiences if they are told to record their thoughts in writing, or speak about them afterward.
When students presented their experiences to others, they said their favorite programs were Animation Magic – where they learned about how a haunted house works by going backstage. Many of the students also had positive thoughts on the Seaworld Education Program.
This February, the children have been busy with the Science Fair. And, although they may not take a school trip this June, Stevens said she would like to do so again in the future. “Working with an educational travel company helped us create the core learning experiences for the trip. We would not have been able to travel as a school without this component,” noted Stevens.
There are many different Disney Y.E.S. programs to choose from these days, as the educational series has expanded over the years. Some of the newer programs include: The American Story (history), Showbiz Magic at La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil an inside look at the Cirque de Soleil performers, Millenium Cultures (World Showcase), and Disney’s Leadership Excellence: The Inside Track. This is just a sampling of the many Y.E.S programs available to student travel groups in a variety of subjects.
The great part about scheduling a student group trip to Orlando to participate in Y.E.S. Programs, according to Heather Stevens, is “it’s educational fun for the adults as well.”