Field trips take students to cadaver lab, Supreme Court

Wilson students were gathered around the leg of a corpse when they realized with amusement that the toenails were painted. Don’t worry—nothing shady was going on. They were in Anne Arundel County at a cadaver lab, getting first-hand experience in Biomedical Science. While field trips are a rarity at Wilson, some stand out as once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Social studies teacher Jennifer Brown was in a parent-teacher conference in October when a parent who works for the Supreme Court suggested she take a field trip there. On March 15th, she and fellow social studies teachers Michele Bollinger and Natasha Everett took a group of students—mostly seniors taking AP US Government—to meet Sonia Sotomayor. “There’s something very unique about the very first time you’re going to be able to meet a person like that and get to hear them speak,” Brown said, adding that hearing the “insightful questions students ask” amazes her even more.

Some more standard field trips are built into the curriculum, including the Biology trip to the Natural History Museum. Unfortunately for this year’s class of freshmen, it was scheduled for a date during the government shutdown and never got rescheduled.

Some students have noticed the scarcity of field trips at Wilson in comparison to middle school. Is our lack of field trips due to budget cuts or just the blatant apathy of students regarding them?

While it’s easy to blame a lack of organization on the teachers’ end, Brown said that field trips are pretty simple to set up, but students don’t want to go. “I think it’s actually harder to get students interested in going anywhere,” she said. “For [the Supreme Court] field trip, for example, we could bring 110 students but we didn’t even get close to that number because so many students declined to go.”

While occasional cool opportunities like that are sprinkled in throughout the year, Biomedical Science classes offer the bulk of exceptional field trips at Wilson. These include trips to a cadaver lab, morgue, and a hospital to watch a cardiothoracic surgery. But these opportunities aren’t always open to all students.“If we’re talking about the surgery, we can only do 50 at a time and if you look at our [Principles of Biomedical Science field trips], even if we go twice we’ll leave out 50 to 80 students,” science teacher Danielle Krafft said.

These trips are also expensive. The cadaver lab charges $2,000 for Wilson to visit, but only allows 40 students to come.

These opportunities mostly stem from teachers’ advocacy. Krafft said that although the Biomed program’s partnership with Project Lead the Way has helped with networking, Biomed field trips primarily rely on the relationships formed by teachers reaching out to organizations.

Arranging field trips isn’t always easy—it requires teachers willing to seek out opportunities and student enthusiasm to participate. Regardless, field trips present valuable hands-on experience that classrooms can’t always offer. “It allows the students to venture out to see how they truly feel in situations that they would be put in in everyday life if they choose that particular pathway,” Krafft said. “Field trips are imperative to the educational process.”