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  • Tips & Modifications


    Another option is to have students work in small groups to plan and conduct micro-expeditions on school grounds.


    Make sure each student has a small field notebook and pen or pencil for writing notes and making sketches.


    Modify this activity based on available class time. You can have students conduct their expeditions in small groups outside of school with parent help, or do it as a class as part of a field trip.


    Request maps of the micro-expedition ahead of time for students to use in their preparation, or have students make their own maps using MapMaker Interactive.

    1. Make final preparations for the micro-expeditions.

    Have students revisit their expedition planning document, their chart listing team roles and media collection, and the ethics considerations. Have them determine if changes are needed. You can have them create a final checklist of what they need to do. If students are overly ambitious with their goals, remind them that in exploring a place for the first time they should plan to make simple observations, and that this type of exploration takes focus, concentration, and sensory awareness. Have them build into the planning some time for silent observations during which they describe what they see, hear, and smell. Also explain that a key element of exploration and expeditions is coming away with new questions; it will not be possible to answer all of their questions at once.


    2. Plan ahead for communicating their findings.

    Have students plan how to share their findings with a larger audience. Ask: Who will write about different aspects, create the maps, develop the videos, and/or write captions for photos? Talk about how having these roles in mind during the expedition will help in the communicating afterward. Students might want to use a GPS unit to collect lat/long coordinates for where they collect certain information or data, or use a camera that automatically geo-references images, so that they can plot this on a map, such as MapMaker Interactive, afterward.


    3. Conduct the micro-expedition.

    Have students conduct their field-based “micro-expedition” as planned, using skills of observation, recording notes, sketching, and use of cameras for both images and video.


    4. Reflect and evaluate.

    As soon as possible after the expedition, give students time to free-write about their reflections on the micro-expedition. Ask:

    • What are the key findings?
    • What observations were made?
    • What did you observe that you expected to see?
    • What did you not expect to see?
    • What new questions do you have about this place?


    Next have students reflect on their expedition in small groups, using the materials they developed in the planning stage (i.e., planning sheet, ethics statement, multidisciplinary work statement) to evaluate how well they think the micro-expedition was carried out. Ask: Did we adhere to our plan? Why or why not? What obstacles came up? How did your group work together? Have a whole group discussion of the outcomes of their expedition.


    5. Create a product to communicate findings to a new audience.

    Have students use their notes, reflections, sketches, images, and video to create a presentation, blog post, slideshow, bulletin board, GeoTour (using the MapMaker Interactive), or other display to educate new audiences about their findings. Consider having students present to park rangers, community leaders, or other stakeholders about their expedition process and their observations.

    Informal Assessment

    Evaluate students' reflections and their final product communicating their micro-expedition process and findings. Consider having students develop a list of micro-expedition planning tips for the next class undertaking a similar project.

    Extending the Learning

    Have students take their new questions and choose one to further explore. What scientific disciplines or fields would an expedition to address this question involve? Have students do further research on the question to find out current knowledge about this topic.

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    • Biology
    • Earth Science
    • English Language Arts

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • evaluate plan for a micro-expedition and determine changes needed
    • execute their plan while making observations and collecting data and media
    • evaluate implementation of micro-expedition
    • create a presentation or other display to share with new audiences

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Discussions
    • Experiential learning
    • Reflection
    • Writing

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts

    • Standard 12:  Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
    • Standard 8:  Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

    National Council for Social Studies Curriculum Standards

    • Theme 3:  People, Places, and Environments

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 4:  The physical and human characteristics of places

    National Science Education Standards

  • What You’ll Need

    Materials You Provide

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Optional
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, 1 computer per small group, Digital camera (and related equipment), GPS units, Media production software, Monitor/screen, Presentation software, Projector, Speakers, Video camera (and related equipment)

    Physical Space


    Accessibility Notes

    Check with parks and related outdoor destinations for accessibility information.

    Other Notes

    This activity will need to extend for a class period before and after the field-based micro-expedition.

  • Background Information

    For this final activity, it is important to encourage students in their exploration and explain that things may not go completely according to plan and they won’t be able to answer everything they want to, but that is part of the discovery process. Encourage students to use this as a learning opportunity to understand more about what it takes to engage in expeditions and about their own abilities to work as part of a team and think like an explorer. 


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    expedition Noun

    journey with a specific purpose, such as exploration.

    exploration Noun

    study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.