Last week, a number of BJA teachers and I accompanied the seventh graders to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. It was a memorable three days of bouncing on the bus, trekking through museums, eating fast food, and getting to know the mind of a seventh grader. Some have humorously referred to middle-schoolers as “pre-people”; I found them to be both fascinated and fascinating.
When all accounted for, there were 10 high-octane boys in my group. Just to put that into perspective, Marty and I raised four girls. While the needle on the drama indicator did not, perhaps, register as high as the girls’, the energy gauge stayed pegged out from 10 minutes after the morning wake-up call until 30 minutes (I’m being generous) after lights out! I have a deeper appreciation for families—especially large families—and must confess that I pondered the great wisdom of God in instituting families who understand and deeply love their children. I am so glad God created the “family unit” rather than the “classroom unit!” Please don’t get me wrong! We had a great time together; but this was a three-day sprint, not a continuing marathon.
You may wonder when I had time to ponder, but there was another idea I contemplated—the value of field trips. This was certainly a worthy question since we were spending three days out of the classroom and on the road. There are many reasons for field trips, but let me suggest three.
First, field trips give practical application to theoretical learning.
Using the Creation Museum trip as an example, the students examined dinosaur bones, fossils, visual depictions of catastrophic, world-changing events such as the flood, and a replica of the ark that God used to preserve mankind. They witnessed firsthand people asking questions about the size and capacity of the ark. They viewed God’s handiwork in the night sky through four different telescopes, seeing the planet Saturn, the star Vega, a nebula, and a galaxy. To read about and see pictures of these is one thing, but to observe them personally embeds a life-long impression. And, the students will have a context for future learning.
Second, field trips stimulate critical thinking.
The students observed two opposing worldviews—the biblical worldview and the secular worldview. At the dig site exhibit, one of the first exhibits in the museum, students were challenged with the idea that a person’s worldview directs the person’s conclusions. Evolution presupposes that there is no God; therefore, creation is not viable and man has to make conclusions based on “natural” processes. Creation recognizes God exists, He has revealed Himself to us, and that all that is consistent with His Word. On Friday, we paid a visit to Big Bone Lick State Park and listened to the park naturalist, who explained the mammoth and mastodons in terms of evolution and a secular worldview. Students were able to apply the truths they’d recently considered to think critically about the claims that she made.
Third, field trips give opportunities to minister.
People noticed the difference in our students. On at least four occasions, passersby mentioned to me what a polite, well-behaved group the students were. Many of us had occasion to speak with people and talk of God’s goodness and glory.
I must admit the trip was tiring but there was a deep satisfaction in knowing that our students were exposed to expert instruction that will shore up the foundations of a biblical worldview.