The goal of the field studies camp is to reinforce lessons taught in the classroom, giving students hands-on, real-life experiences with scientific concepts. The agenda varies year-to-year and is accommodated to specific topics the teachers feel would best help the students prepare for the STAAR test, which they will take as eighth graders. For instance, if more emphasis is necessary on the Earth Sciences, rather than the Life Sciences, the Bamberger Ranch staff can incorporate more into the agenda.
This year, almost the entire sixth-grade class attended the three-day, two-night field trip. The boys arrived Monday morning and stayed through Wednesday morning, and the girls arrived Wednesday afternoon, staying through midday Friday.
After breakfast on Wednesday morning, the boys and their chaperons headed out on the Bluebonnet, a covered trailer pulled by a pickup truck that transported the students around the ranch during their stay.
"We feel really fortunate that we get to do this every year with the help of our PTA," said Siptak. "Nothing beats doing the real thing, going out and seeing and experiencing a place like this. There is no trash, there are no automobile sounds. It's a really good opportunity that a lot of kids don't normally get. If they see this now when they are impressionable, and learn about conservation, I think an experience like this will impact them for the rest of their lives."
Next, the group had lessons on some of the wildlife who live on the ranch, including Mexican Freetail Bats and a herd of endangered species of African antelope, the Scimitar Horned Oryx.