Field trips play a pivotal role in enriching and broadening the educational experience and the horizon of the students as these events and activities afford learners an opportunity to leave the school grounds for the purposes of curriculum – related study or outdoor education. For education entails exploration.
Field visits also provide learners with an opportunity to put their critical thinking and research skills to test. These educational trips are a source of entertainment since they serve as strong motivators and incubators which stir up excitement. Suffice to say that they enable pupils to engage with content in a relaxed, varied and inspired fashion beyond the walls of the classroom. In a nutshell, such site visits or field visits or field trips reinforce experiential and contextual learning.
In other words, experiential learning relates to or is based on experience and observation. It is the process of learning by doing, or by engaging students in hands-on experience and reflection. This enables them to better link theories and knowledge learned in the classroom to real-world situations. On the other hand, contextual learning (CL) is a learning system that ties brain action to crating patters that have meaning. The contextual learning theory suggests that learning occurs only when students process new information or knowledge in a manner that makes sense to them. In short, it explores how bringing learning into context can make the experience more meaningful to students.
To this end, on Friday 18th of November 2022, after relevant formalities –such as requesting permission for the ninety students to embark on the trip and the checking of their school identity cards – had been carried out, the Greek Community School students duly left for the new Museum of Art and Science in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with much enthusiasm and delight at around 11: 00 am. They were led and accompanied by six teachers.
They travelled safely to the new monument which majestically sits on a lovely hill leading to the national palace. Upon arriving at the new museum which lies on 6.78 hectares of land, the students saw a fleet of parked buses and a multitude of school children, teachers and other visitors from different walks of life. The sight of a lot of visitors and vehicles at the complex prompted one student to remark, “It’s jam-packed here”. Indeed, it was a hive of activity, hence it took them some time to weave their way up into the shiny, magnificent, massive and circular 160 000 square feet building.
The 15 000 –square meter complex has two floors with spiraling and circumnavigating staircases from one level to the other. We learnt that to give a visitor a sense of interactivity and tranquility, the dome-shaped arts center is home to approximately 14 000 square meters of permanent and temporary exhibition spaces that are fully sound-proof.
The main floor houses a visitor’s center, two huge exhibition halls, an amphitheater, a cafeteria area and several offices. The 360-degree rooftop houses a roof garden and a solar farm.
The second part of the complex is the Dome Theater. It basically consists of a twenty-four meter high, four hundred and fifty meter square and three-dimensional cinema.
Exploring and touring the museum, they observed and came across a variety of technological products or digital technologies and exhibitions at different stands. The facility features a number of interactive exhibits in such diverse and dynamic fields as healthcare, service industries, finance, cybersecurity, geographic information systems (GIS), data analytics, manufacturing and robotics. Talking of robotics, the schoolchildren were so excited to watch and marvel at a huge, tall and walking robot that it was a task for teachers to get them to proceed to other equally important stands.
In spite of being sandwiched between two massive buildings, eighty percent of that surrounding land is still considered green space as it has over 4000 indigenous trees, several plants and a variety of flourishing and fragrant flowers. The garden consists of a comfortable entertainment area, parking areas and walkways.
Exhausted but exhilarated, the students returned to school all in one piece in the afternoon. It was a worthwhile experience for both the pupils and the teachers to learn and relearn and delve into culture, indigenous knowledge systems, agriculture, science, technology, art or history. After all, the circular shape of the new museum is said to signify the importance of perpetual development and human wisdom. Indeed, they are wiser after such an eye-opening visit.