|Welcome to Field Trip Earth!|
by Mark MacAllister
: Exploring Field Trip Earth
Field Trip Earth focuses on field-based wildlife
conservation research projects ongoing around the world.
Some of the projects are "live," meaning that
research activities, and one or more research scientists,
are currently active in the field. These projects are
featured prominently on the site. Projects that are not
"live" are archived so that students can continue
to access the relevant articles, photos, videos, and other
materials. All of the projects, though, are similar in that
they provide classrooms and others around the world the
opportunity to interact meaningfully with wildlife
researchers and other conservation experts. Students and
other users can read researchers’ field diary entries,
direct questions to the researchers (and read their
responses), listen to recorded satellite telephone calls and
other communications, see video taken in the field, and
discuss conservation issues with them. In a sense, students
can use the interactive resources of Field Trip Earth
to become part of the research team itself.
Resources on the site are divided into two broad
categories. Site-wide resources are not connected to a
particular species or research project. Rather, they focus
on conservation issues generally, and in doing so address
concerns that span several species and/or regions. Access to
the site-wide resources is via a menu found on the left-hand
margin of the Field Trip Earth homepage, and nearly
every other page on the site.
Species-specific resources, on the other-hand, focus with
significant detail on a particular species inhabiting a
particular region: red wolves in northeastern North
Carolina, for example, or savannah and forest elephants in
Cameroon, Africa. Access to each "field
trip"—that is, to each research project—is
via each field trip's homepage. Go to the Field Trips list
for a list of research projects monitored on the site.
Field Trip Earth users interested in learning about
larger conservation perspectives should explore site-wide
resources, while users wishing to learn more about a
particular species, a particular research project, or
conservation in a particular part of the world should look
to specific field trips first. However, each type of user
will find valuable information throughout the entire site.
: Site-Wide Resources
Link to List of All Field Trips
Follow ths link to obtain a list of all the field trips
available on the site (both "live" and archived
field trips), and for summary information about each.
Join Field Trip Earth
Two options are available for users that wish to be kept
up-to-date on important information about the Field Trip
Earth website. Users who are not classroom teachers can
simply provide an email address and some non-personally identifiable
information that we use for data collection purposes only;
in exchange, we'll occasionally email a brief
"newsflash" (usually only a sentence or two and a
link) pointing them to an interesting website update or
important event in a particular field trip. In addition to
the newsletter, classroom teachers anywhere in the world
have the additional option to participate in a variety of
data collection surveys we use to better understand how
Field Trip Earth is used in the classroom, and what
effects the website has on teaching and learning. These
surveys are brief and are conducted online—data
gathered via the surveys are shared among Field Trip
Earth staff, and are also reported as required to our
About Field Trip Earth
Information in this section provides an overview about the
Field Trip Earth project and its mission. Project
participants are highlighted, as are technical issues, basic
guidance for using the site, and so on.
Information on how to communicate with the Field Trip
Earth staff is offered in this section.
The search engine will examine all of the information on the
site, both for active and archived field trips. The search
engine can be used to locate information about a particular
species, a particular region under study, or any other
aspect of the site. Students searching for answers to
specific questions can often find them via this resource.
This tool allows a student or, better yet, a group of students, to construct an interview with a Field Trip Earth researcher. That interview is then forwarded to the researcher for his/her responses. The most
relevant, thoughtful and intriguing interviews will then be
shared on the website. An archive of
previous interviews will also be available.
Please note that we will not be able to answer all
interview requests—we will be choosing only a few, but we will respond to those in significant detail.
Interviews that focus on larger issues that span several
species and/or regions are especially encouraged.
The Discussion Groups offer an opportunity for users to substantively exchange ideas, questions,
comments, and reflections regarding any topic related to
Field Trip Earth. All discussions are
moderated, meaning that a teacher or other adult
reviews the discussion entries, responds to issues raised,
and suggests related new topics for additional discussion.
Teachers may use this section to
encourage their students and their colleagues to think about, and write
about, their own experiences with wildlife, as well as their
experiences in using this website. We hope that the
discussions will be wide-ranging, and that they will serve
to bring together teachers and students from around the
Field Trip Earth discussion groups are public discussion groups, and as such all information submitted to these discussions becomes public. All users, and especially children, should avoid disclosing personally identifiable information—such as names, email addresses, and street addresses—on the discussion group.
: In-Depth Articles
What I Know About...
In addition to researchers actually working on the ground,
wildlife conservation projects involve a wide variety of
experts: computer programmers, guides, zookeepers,
attorneys, laboratory researchers, veterinary students, and
so on. Each of these people has a story to share regarding
their experiences in working with wildlife. Field Trip
Earth gathers these stories in this section.
Field Reports comprises a collection of stories about the
wildlife, people and places associated with the projects
featured on Field Trip Earth. These stories allow us
to look more closely at the field experience itself, and to
better understand issues related to each particular field
trip. For example, some Field Reports consider new
technologies being tested for use in the field. Another
Field Report may be an in-depth examination of an important
species that shares habitat with one of the species under
study. Yet another may simply show a step-by-step process,
such as how morphological measurements are taken in the
Field Reports will also strive to use a variety of media to
tell the story. In addition to words, we'll use a lot of
photographs, video, and sound. It is important to understand
that these media materials are posted to the site "as
is." This means that nothing appearing in a Field
Report is staged or rehearsed. As a result, field
researchers often must use their cameras in poor light, in
bad weather, or at long distances; sound will often be
gathered in less than ideal conditions. Additionally, we do
as little editing of sounds and images as possible. In other
words, the intent of the Field Reports is not to offer
perfect pictures and professional-quality video. Rather, it
is to show as authentically as possible what it is like to
work in the field with wildlife.
: Educator Resources
This section forms the core component of the Field Trip
Earth instructional mission. Itcontains a variety of
teaching strategies that may be used individually as
"stand-alone" events or as parts of a larger
instructional unit. These lessons, designed by K-12
educators from our partner school districts, reflect
national standards in a variety of academic areas, though of
course they should be adapted for implementation in each
individual learning environment. Please see the Educator
Resources page for more information about these strategies.
These strategies will offer a measure of guidance to
teachers wishing to implement Field Trip Earth in
their classrooms. These strategies do not represent a
fully-developed curriculum. Rather, they are
"kernels" or "building blocks" that
teachers can use to teach certain concepts, processes, or
thinking skills. A teacher wishing to improve students'
writing skills, for example, can employ the journaling
strategies highlighted on the site as a means for doing so.
And, our experience shows, students are in turn very excited
about journaling if they can learn the skill while, at the
same time, reading the journal entries of a field
researchers actively engaged in a wildlife conservation
A list of recently-posted stories from among all of the
field trips, as well as an abstract of each, is available in
the center of the page. Users can choose to read a story in
its entirety, or can be linked to a list of other stories
with content similar to that topic.
Field Trip Earth News
Breaking news about the site or its associated field projects
is displayed here. Important events in the world of wildlife
conservation generally will also appear in this block.
Field Trip Earth users will frequently have the
opportunity to voice their opinions on key environmental
questions. Polls are open to all, and are anonymous. Results can be viewed
as votes are cast.
: Species-Specific Resources
About the Species
Each "About the Species" section will provide
background information—some general, some quite
detailed—about the species under study. In addition to
basic descriptive articles, there will be a FAQ (frequently
asked questions) article for each species, as well as
information about behavior, distribution, and habitat
preferences. Information about each species' place in
mythology, literature and other arts will be available here,
as will photographs of the species. Teachers may use this
section to become more familiar with the species, and/or to
provide a store of research materials for their students.
About the Project
This section provides critical background about every wildlife
conservation research project hosted on Field Trip
Earth. Each project's history, goals, objectives and
methods will be outlined. Links to web resources about
equivalent research projects will also be provided.
Classroom teachers should use this section to introduce
students to project basics and to research methodology
About the Region
An "online almanac" of information about the region
under study is available in this section. Facts about that
region's geography, population, and history are available.
Maps and other images will also be used to better describe
the area, and detailed article will outline key regional
components, such as unusual habitats or threats to wildlife.
Teachers should use this section as a resource for learning
more about the region, and for placing the research project
itself into social, economic, ecological, geographic, and
: Resources for Research
Datatables and other datasets relevant to the field trip will
be downloadable from this section. Examples of datasets
include location data (latitude/longitude) for animals
tracked by radio or satellite collars, morphology data,
population data, and so on.
A gallery of media objects, including photographs, video and
audio clips, maps, and other materials will be available
here. Users can simply browse those objects and select which
pieces they wish to review in greater detail.
Photographs, video and other media objects related to a
specific article will be listed in the Media Gallery which
appears on the right-hand margin of each article page. Users
wishing to see the media object in greater detail—that
is, to see a full-size version of a photo, or to download a
videoclip—must click the link to that object.
A list of recently-posted stories from the field trip, as well
as an abstract of each, is available in the center of the
page. Users can choose to read a story in its entirety, or
can be linked to a list of other stories with content
similar to that topic.
: Field Diaries
Each field researcher participating on the Field Trip
Earth website will keep a diary or field journal about
his/her day-to-day activities on the project. These
first-person accounts will include stories about
preparations for field activity, actual events in the field,
"you-are-there" insights about the species and and
region under study, and reflections about conservation
biology, species endangerment, and other topics. All of
these entries will be made available to students via this
component of the website. Teachers should use this section
to provide students with the most realistic accounting of
science at work. The researchers' diaries will bring to life
both the mundane and the exciting aspects of the project;
the diary entries can, in turn, help focus students'
day-to-day understanding of what's happening on each
project, and can also serve as excellent models for
journaling and other writing tasks.
About the author:
Mark MacAllister is the Project Coordinator for Field