One of the most popular field trips of the Powhatan School experience is the annual sixth grade Survival Trip. Last week students and faculty headed out on the Shenandoah River to put their survival skills to the test. This epic cross-curricular overnight camping trip provides students with an unique experiential learning activity that draws directly from their readings in the classroom.
The Survival Trip is based on the book ‘Hatchet’ by author Gary Paulsen. It is the first book students read in Mrs. Jaffe’s sixth grade English class. It chronicles the path back to civilization by Brian, the main character of the book, after he survives a plane crash in the wilderness. Brian’s ability to make fire is a pivotal part of the book and the students learn how to make fire using items found in nature. While Brian remained alone in nature for 54 days, our students spend two beautiful days kayaking, canoeing, making arrowheads and blow darts, and practicing archery.
Cross-curricular learning is an educational approach that emphasizes the interconnectedness of different subject areas and encourages students to integrate knowledge from various disciplines. In this case, the Survival Trip is a unique combination between English class and the Science Department. “Cross-curricular learning is essential in the modern education landscape because it mirrors real-world problem-solving, where challenges rarely fall neatly into one academic category,” comments Mr. Robb, the Head of Upper School. “There are so many interesting facets of this trip, but I really love that a trip like this brings a book like Hatchet to life in a holistic and authentic learning experience for students.” Rather than viewing subjects in isolation, students can grasp how they relate and complement one another, fostering a deeper comprehension of the material. This approach prepares students for the interdisciplinary nature of many careers and helps them develop crucial skills like critical thinking and problem-solving. By intertwining these subjects in a real-world context, students gain a more profound appreciation of the interplay between disciplines, making their education not only more engaging but also more applicable to their future endeavors.