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The answer to this question is going to vary from area to area based on what any given locale may have to offer. Obvious suggestions would be museums, farms, nature centers, businesses, parks, fire stations, police stations, or libraries.
A pretty common one in my neck of the woods that won't apply everywhere is to one of the hydroelectric dams around here. One of them has a Native American village-type learning center associated with it. Classes also go at times to various agricultural processing plants to see crops being brought in and frozen, canned, etc.
It depends on where you are. Urban students tend to take trips to the country, visiting state and national parks, farms, orchards, botanical gardens, and places of that sort. On the other hand, rural students often go to the city to visit museums, historical sites, museums, and galleries.
Students also generally enjoy going to plays, concerts, and other types of live performance.
The most interesting field trips that I've taken students on have been television stations and newspaper offices. They love seeing folks they've seen on television, and how things work. Even the county water treatment facility catches the interest of many students, since that's something that affects them on a daily basis.
And, by the way, all of those were free trips!
The biggest factor in planning a field trip is how much money the school has. Field trips are very expensive. Even if the place you are going is free, you almost always have to pay for a bus unless you can walk there.
The other major factor is distance- can you get there and back in one school day.
Finally, parental support is key. You need about 1 chaperone for every 3-5 students, depending on age. Younger students need more.
Planning ahead is very important for a good field trip. If possible, teachers should visit the site before and plan activities. There should also be some follow-up.
Don’t forget to schedule lunch. Having kids bring bag lunches is usually easiest, but many bus drives won’t let them eat on the bus.
Here in Florida, we have many amusement parks that are popular with both teachers and students. Museums and art galleries are also good choices. For non-educational trips (which many schools use as good behavior or academic rewards), movie theatres and sporting events are also popular, as well as parks and wildlife preserves. One of the schools at which I taught had an annual trip to a local bowling alley where students could bowl, shoot pool and play video games.
In addition to all of above, Perhaps hospitals and monuments.
Going to court is always a great field trip for a class, with no admission fee and plenty to learn. Tours of many facilities of local industries is usually free as well. Another kind of field trip I have found to be of great value is to visit places of worship that most Americans have never been exposed to, for example Hindu temples and Islam mosques. Most of these are welcoming, educational, and quite fascinating.
Often contacting a local business can be successful to facilitate a good field trip. Our students visit local businesses in exchange for developing their websites as part of their ICT programme.
During elementary, middle, and high school, field trips were the highlight of my school years. I can remember going to historic sites such as the Appalachian Mountains, Endless Caverns, Jamestown, and Washington D.C. As a student, it is also really fun to visit the types of universities and colleges available to students in my state. I personally like science related field trips because you can go to the zoo or aquariums!
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