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Field Trips – A unique approach to IB learning

K.Guru Charan Kumar, IB ESS Teacher at Pathways World School, Aravali discusses the importance of taking his IB students on field trips that enhance the learning they do in the classroom. Over the past year, K. Guru has shared numerous adventures with the IB community and we asked him to reflect on why field experience is central to his teaching.

Why do field trips play such an important role in Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS)?

I have been teaching IB ESS for the past six years and the curriculum gives students an opportunity to explore the outer world. Field trips are one of the main things that differentiate ESS from other subjects in the IBDP Programme.

Field trips help students apply what they learn in class to the external world of biotic and abiotic factors. In class, for example, students learn how to calculate the ‘Simpson’s Diversity Index.’ However, during a field trip students can do the same calculation while they also investigate environmental factors that contribute to the high or low index value. Students also complete their internal assessment lab reports based on the practical experiences they gain during field trips.

What do you find most challenging as an IB teacher?
Every day presents a new challenge. The IB has taught me that life is an ongoing learning process. This is also what motivated me to become an IB teacher. The IB ESS curriculum emphasizes the necessity of being up-to-date with environmental current affairs, particularly as we complete the case studies in paper two. These challenges encourage me to continue to research the subject extensively and seek out the best of resource materials for my students.

As a teacher, it can also be hard to appreciate the unconventional skills that my students bring to the classroom. It is often also challenging to channel their interests and skills toward the subject content. I use documentaries, field trips and interactions as academic tools to raise the level of interest among my students.

What is the most difficult aspect of organizing a field trip?

Each and every field trip presents its own challenges. In general, background research requires a great deal of time and effort. The logistics involved in organizing can also be hectic in addition to navigating the administrative procedures found within any academic institution. I would like to thank Mr. Suprio Bhowmick, my IB Coordinator and the Head of my department, who has guided me through all of these challenges and made many of these trips possible.

What advice would you offer to other teachers hoping to design a field trip or practical experience for their students?

Here are a few things I have found helpful when organizing field trips:

  • Be sure to complete a background study on the field trip venue
  • A two or three day trip is ideal, but depends on you and your students
  • Prepare a small booklet, which contains all the necessary information about your field trip, including the itinerary and the academic area under investigation for your trip. Instructions must be clear.
  • If you will be traveling with more than 10 students, divide them into various teams, assigning team leaders for each
  • Make sure that all your students are well versed in the ESS IA criteria
  • And lastly, enjoy the trip!

In addition, you can explore the web sites we created to highlight individual trips:

On the Blue Mountain Trail-Trip to the Nilgiri
Blog Link-
You Tube Link-

Purvanchal Trip-Trip to the Assam & Meghalaya,North-East India
Blog Link-
You Tube Link-

Maha Kumbh Mela 2013
Blog Link-
You Tube Link-

For more information, please visit K. Guru’s Website