Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safety in the Field

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Safety in the Field

Article excerpt

Field experiences can connect students' classroom learning to the practical, real-world work of scientists. As with all science activities, teachers must address safety concerns before students venture into the field. The National Science Teachers Association's Safety Advisory Board (SAB) recently authored a new white paper, "Field Trip Safety," that discusses this issue (see "On the web").


Science teachers should read "Field Trip Safety" before planning any field experience. Under the legal concept of duty or standard of care, the science teacher and school district are responsible for any safety incident that occurs during a field trip. The new SAB paper helps teachers become aware of safety issues, assess what safety modifications may be needed, and take action before a field trip. These preparations will help protect the science teacher and the school district from potentially serious litigation.

What's in the SAB white paper?

"Field Trip Safety" is divided into six sections: purpose, preparation of students, permission, supervision, outdoor field experiences, and references. Here's a summary of each section:

* Purpose: Defines field trip and the purpose of the paper.

* Preparation of students: Describes what teachers must do when preparing for a field trip. It explains that teachers must identify clear learning outcomes for the site and outline strategies for accomplishing learning goals. This section also covers student behavioral expectations, special needs, communication with parents prior to the trip, plans for emergency first aid, and more. Additionally, it emphasizes that the science teacher should never take students on a field trip if the teacher has not already visited the location.

* Permission: Stipulates that "All school and district policies and procedures must be followed when planning a field trip. …

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