A student’s career path begins with real-world experiences outside of the classroom

“But when will I ever use this?” It’s the one question every educator is sure to hear almost as often as, “Can I sharpen my pencil?”

Students seek relevancy and opportunities to apply content. Some itinerary stops can take students to where these opportunities are offered — behind the scenes where working professionals are front and center. Interacting with professionals ranging from stars of the stage to stargazers will cultivate necessary curiosity about future careers.

When students see jobs that welcome classroom knowledge in real-life situations, they’ll begin to answer the “but when” question for themselves. The following sites will enhance the next student travel experience with connections to life after the classroom.

Broadway Classroom, New York City, N.Y.
[/media-credit] Broadway Classroom, New York City, N.Y.

Broadway Classroom
New York City, New York

Career path: Performance/stage production

When groups participate in Broadway Classroom, they can choose from an entire curriculum of workshops that are private and fully tailored to the show of the group’s choice. Workshops range from one to two hours and take place in the same Manhattan studios where Broadway shows rehearse and audition.

“The Broadway Classroom experience offers a direct connection between groups and Broadway performers that carries over from the rehearsal studio and into the theater as they see that same performer live on stage,” said Vickie Plummer, Broadway Classroom program director. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not only creates lasting memories, but is always private and unique. No other group will ever have that same experience,” Plummer said.

The Up Close and Personal workshop provides participants with the opportunity to enjoy a discussion with a Broadway performer. This conversation allows students to hear personal success stories, career moments and insight into life as a performer.

In addition to workshops focused on choreography and stage combat, Broadway Classroom offers a number of workshops that give participants a glimpse behind the scenes. Interactive classes cover costume quick changes and stage makeup, showing the many forms of artistry at work in stage production.

The Broadway Close Up talk-back session features theatrical professionals from costumers and lighting designers to producers and stage managers. In listening to these artists’ journey to Broadway, students hear tales from backstage and learn some tricks of the trade.

“Being able to open students’ eyes to what happens and how we put together the big picture — a Broadway show — is the most magical thing,” said Bess Marie Glorioso, a Broadway stage manager who leads some of the workshops at Broadway Classroom. “They walk out going, ‘Wow, what did I just experience?’”

Researching student, Colony of Avalon, Ferryland, Newfoundland, Canada
[/media-credit] Researching student, Colony of Avalon, Ferryland, Newfoundland, Canada

Colony of Avalon
Ferryland, Newfoundland, Canada

Career path: Archaeology

Every scrape of an archaeologist’s trowel reveals more about the Colony of Avalon and the people who lived there. Founded in 1621 by Sir George Calvert, Avalon is widely recognized as the best-preserved early English colonial site in North America.

Guides help students decode the ongoing excavations at the Avalon dig site. To date, the team has unearthed a portion of the Calvert Mansion, the remains of a bakery/brew house, forge, well, sea wall and nearly 2 million artifacts. Considering the crew’s focus has been on only a third of the original 4-acre site, there is much left to be discovered.

“During dig season, students can meet and speak with members of our field crew who are a mix of professional archaeologists and archaeology students,” said Jane Severs, who serves on the historic site’s board of directors. “They can watch them work, and there are always plenty of opportunities to help, from manning the dry sift station to measuring a feature.”

Students are often surprised to learn about archaeologists’ work on the waterfront, stone-lined privy. In colonial times, drains connected the privy to the colony’s harbor, allowing the tide to “flush” the privy twice daily. Archaeologists have excavated through layers of refuse to uncover a range of artifacts.

“Thousands of seeds, including both native and imported fruits and vegetables, shells, fish, bird and other animal bones revealed a wealth of information about the colonists’ diet,” Severs said.

Students continue their learning in the Conservation Lab. During the height of dig season, archaeologists uncover about 3,000 artifacts per week that must be tagged and bagged before they are sent to the lab for cleaning and cataloging.

“Students are provided an opportunity to view recent finds, talk to lab staff and learn a few tricks of the trade.” Severs said. “This is real history in real time. At the colony, the past isn’t just something you see. It’s something students can help shape.”

Students view frog, Stone Lab, Gibraltar Island, Ohio
[/media-credit] Students view frog, Stone Lab, Gibraltar Island, Ohio

Stone Lab
Gibraltar Island, Ohio

Career path: Biology/environmental science

The Ohio State University’s Stone Lab sits in the middle of Lake Erie. This means visiting students begin their adventure in a boat, just like many of the scientists conducting research on the island.

With sampling equipment in tow, students cruise a research vessel and measure water temperature and pH. They cast a trolling net and collect plankton specimen under the direction of their guide.

“Visits are hands-on,” said Dr. Christopher Winslow, director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program that administers Stone Lab. “This kind of learning captures student interest in the STEM field. Standing ankle-deep in water with boots on, scraping a bug off the bottom of a rock — this is immersive learning in action.”

These samples are then brought right into the research labs. Students examine slides under microscopes and are led through fish dissections.

“The scientists living on the island are eager to share their work and speak with students,” Winslow said.

Conversations about the impact of algae on fish predation, longitudinal studies on birds or competition from invasive species help students grasp the opportunities in a science-related career path. Day and overnight options are available. Educators can work with staff members to tailor a visit to their particular learning objective.

Students take selfies with an orca, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego, Calif.
[/media-credit] Students take selfies with an orca, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego, Calif.

San Diego, California

Career path: Marine science

SeaWorld San Diego empowers students to preserve the future of marine animals and helps students gain a deeper appreciation for our world’s waters.

The park continues to evolve the next generation of marine-life experiences. This year, SeaWorld is embarking on one of the most ambitious transformations in the park’s history.

A series of specially-designed aquariums displaying ocean animals will be at the heart of Ocean Explorer. Students will come eye-to-eye with animals like giant octopuses, spider crabs and jellies.

The all-new, inspiring Orca Encounter is based on killer whale behavior in the wild. Students learn how they move, hunt and navigate, what they eat and even how they communicate. Students also can see the working professionals who care for these creatures through a Private VIP Tour, Resident Camp or Career Camp. Students receive a realistic, hands-on experience as they work with experts to prepare animal diets and maintain healthy habitats.

“These kinds of hands-on experiences that connect kids with animals can make a profound impact on their life,” said Mike Dunn, camp manager. “Many of our former campers and former camp counselors have transitioned into helping animals around the world, whether working with the SeaWorld Rescue Team or becoming a classroom teacher using activities and curriculum learned at a SeaWorld camp to benefit their own students.”

U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Ala.
[/media-credit] U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Ala.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Huntsville, Alabama

Career path: Astronomy/engineering

The launch of the Mars orbiter ushered in a new wave of space exploration. Scientists are learning more than ever before about the Red Planet’s climate and geologic history. The next generation of astronauts and engineers will build on the work of those who pioneered the field in the race to space.

Students visiting the U.S. Space & Rocket Center can interact with some of those trailblazers. NASA emeritus docents are volunteers who worked or continue to work in the space industry.

“When we started the lunar program, we were told it was impossible,” said Lowell Zoller, an emeritus docent who began his career more than 50 years ago. “I tell students that and say the only thing that is impossible is the thing you don’t do.”

Encouraged by docents like Zoller, students are challenged to apply science and engineering concepts throughout their visit. Zoller said he enjoys interacting with students and igniting their interest in the field.

The center’s popular Ultimate Field Trip itinerary maximizes student engagement. Groups can view more than 1,500 artifacts from America’s space program, access the Rocket Center’s simulators, view an IMAX or National Geographic Theater movie, enjoy lunch and participate in a hands-on lab.

Article by Michael McLaughlin