Picture this: You send your child off to school knowing that they have a big day ahead of them. Whether it is a field trip or a special event, you know they are making memories that day. You think about them throughout the day and wonder what they are experiencing. You are eager to see them and hear all about their day. "So, how was your day?" you ask. Their answer is beautifully simple and completely withholding: "Fine."
Fifth-grader Caitlin Williams recounts her class field trip to the Florida Museum of Natural History and Blue Springs State Park. She very eloquently paints a picture of her thoughts and impressions from the day taking in her surroundings and experiences.
By Caitlin Williams, Grade 5
Butterflies. Rows and rows of butterflies...each one as delicate as the next. Three whole stories dedicated to butterflies. No wonder the museum was so big! A simple display showed how they pinned and preserved butterflies. Looking at the rows of preserved butterflies, I wondered how long all that pinning had taken. Our guide explained to us that, a lepidopterist is a scientist who studies butterflies.
“Now you try saying that.” The guide said, chuckling.
“Lep-id-op-ter-ist!” the class slowly pronounced the word.
“Wonderful!” said the guide, smiling. She led us over to a large window. “Now, if any of you ever decide you want to be a lepidopterist later in life, this is what your workspace might look like.” the guide said.
Through the window, I could see beakers, refrigerators, needles, vials, and plenty of other scientific tools. Although I was impressed with the pinned butterflies, I was dying to see some live ones. Then, the guide led us over to a corkboard with pinned moths on it. A label at the top read, Largest to Smallest. Three little moths, about the size of a small pencil eraser, were carefully pinned to the board. A huge moth, bigger than my fist was pinned up next to them. “I’m honestly not sure how they caught them,” said the guide, pointing at tiny moths. “They’re about the size of pocket lint!”
We walked down the rest of the hallway, till we reached a small, closed-off room. Inside, about twenty small butterflies fluttered around a small cage, multiple cocoons hung from sticky, white shelves, and four big moths fluttered around the window.
“It’s moving!” shrieked one of my classmates.
“Well, of course, the moths are moving!” said the guide. “They’re alive!” The class laughed. “These butterflies are going to be released into the Butterfly Rainforest at 2:00 today,” she said, pointing to the butterflies in the cage. “And that’s where we’re headed now!” The class hurriedly followed after her as she led us to a man.
“Can you guys follow some easy rules?” the man asked “YES!!” said the class, getting very impatient. “First of all, don’t climb on anything, don't touch the butterflies, and don't run.” the man said, explaining the rules.
“Okay,” we responded.
“Ok, you may go!” said the man. The guide took us to a set of doors.
“Be prepared, a blast of wind is going to blow at you when we enter. This is to keep the butterflies from escaping.” our guide explained. She opened the door, and as expected, a blast of warm wind gushed from the vents. As soon as we stepped in the Butterfly Rainforest, humid, warm air seemed to cling to my skin. Brightly colored plants and trees were everywhere, matching in with exotic butterflies flapping around the exhibit. A stone pathway led through the brightly colored, forest.
The guide led us through the pathway pointing at butterflies as we went. Butterflies of all colors and sizes flew around us. One butterfly was a bright blue on the inside of its wings but a rusty brown on the outside. Another was a simple lacey white, like a handmade handkerchief. We walked across the whole rainforest until we reached the exit. We stopped there and checked for any, ‘hitchhikers’. Finally, we explored the other exhibits. After having lunch, we hopped back on the bus and drove off to Blue Springs.
Ahh! Get off me!” I screamed as the black bugs swarmed around me. The love bugs were like black confetti at an over-decorated birthday party. They flew around us, landing on our legs, and in general, causing chaos.
“I know it’s hard to concentrate, but you guys need to listen.” said our science teacher, Ms.LoDico. “Pair up and help carry the kayaks to the water!” said Ms. Stripling, one of our other teachers. I grabbed my friend, April’s hand and dragged her over to the kayaks.
“Wait a second!” she said as she ran off to the pavilion. She came back clad in a pair of grey goggles.
“Hmmm, I don’t know if I would do that, but it’s not a bad idea!” I told April. Together, we lifted up the kayak. Almost immediately we set it back down. “It’s so heavy!” we both said at the same time. We pushed the boat down half of the slope, then picked it back up again. We slowly carried it down to the water, taking many short breaks in the process, either to give our arms a break or to swat the love bugs that surrounded us. Finally, we reached the water. I tentatively walked in. Suddenly, I jumped back on the shore. “It’s really, really cold!!” I explained. I slowly walked back in.
The freezing water was up to my shins by the time we had pushed the boat in. April carefully held the boat as I hopped in. I tried to keep the kayak still as she climbed into the back. Ms. LoDico handed us our oars from the shore and gave us a small push. We started drifting forward. Too late, I realized we were heading toward the swimming area! The tip of our boat crossed the rope fencing of the swimming area, and the rest of our kayak threatened to follow its lead.
“Row, row, row!” April shouted. We both rowed on as hard as we could as I shouted, “Right! Make sure your paddling on the right!” We turned ourselves around, letting the weak current pull us forward. We paddled every couple of seconds. Suddenly, we heard our friend Caj shouting, “Don’t go any farther! We need to wait for Ms.LoDico!” April and I both heaved huge sighs, then turned back around again.
We managed to paddle ourselves around in the small area, while we waited for Ms. LoDico. Finally, someone shouted, “Ms. LoDico is in her kayak!” a cheer arose from the assembled class. Ms. LoDico paddled to the front of the group like a mother duck with her little ducklings following behind her. Ms. Elliot and Ms.Stripling stayed at the back to help any stragglers. April and I slowly paddled, keeping to the back.
“Don’t you want to go up to the front?” April asked. I started to reply, but April was already paddling. I fell in sync and we started to move forward. Of course, we crashed into Katherine and Adara. The collision sent our kayak sideways and April and I paddled fiercely, desperately trying to turn. We gently bumped into a log poking up from the water, and I used my hand to push us off its mossy surface. At this point we didn’t need to paddle much, the current was gently tugging our boat forward.
We grabbed on to Caj’s boat to stop ourselves as Ms. LoDico showed us how abruptly the crystal clear water turned into slightly muddy brown water. The class turned around, using each other’s boats like bumper cars and headed back downstream. We had to push against the current as we paddled back, making our journey even harder. Luckily, we learned from our mishaps going up the river so it was a pretty smooth ride.
About halfway back Ms.LoDico pulled her boat up to the shore making sure it didn’t slide backward. “Who wants to go swimming?” she said. April and I quickly parked our kayak on the muddy shore and hopped out for a quick swim. We played around in the frigid water for a little bit, then hopped back in our kayak and continued pushing against the current, till we reached the love bug kingdom again. We pushed our boat onto the muddy shore, our feet squishing with each step. With the help of Ms. LoDico, we lugged our heavy, wet kayak up the slope. Surprisingly, we weren’t being attacked by love bugs. I didn’t think much of our good fortune until I looked sideways and saw the pavilion. Every single surface was covered with little black bugs. Our bags, the roof, the columns, our water bottles, everything was covered. “No!” shrieked my classmate, Adara. “My Hydro Flask!!” I looked over, only to see that Adara’s water bottle was covered with a least twenty love bugs. We set our kayak down with a heavy CLUNK and went to grab our oars.
After getting our oars we rushed back to deal with the love bug problem. I bravely rushed into the pavilion, but quickly ran back out after being swarmed by the love bugs. I ran in again, this time with Caj trailing behind me. We both grabbed our bags and ran back to the bench. We set down the love bug-infested, bags and tried to clean them off.
After smearing several love bugs onto the bag, I gave up and grabbed my snorkel mask from inside the bag. I ran down to the water where my friends Saelee and Calli were waiting. I ran into the cold water, splashing it onto my legs. I pulled on my mask and jumped into the water. Caj was quick to follow me. We swam forward despite the chilly water. I suppose one gets used to it after a little bit.
After crossing about half of the swimming area, I looked down. A huge pit opened up beneath us. Rocky ledges surrounded the pit, while a concrete block rested at the bottom. I popped my head out of the water, shouting, “Caj! Caj! Did you see that hole?” she poked her head up and nodded her head, her snorkel still in her mouth. Caj swam over to a group of our classmates, while I swam back to the shallows. I saw Calli and Saelee together on one of the rocky ledges. I made a quick detour to tell them about the pit. I made it just in time, as Calli was saying, “Come on Saelee! Let’s go forward a bit!” Calli’s feet were right on the edge, yet she was completely oblivious to her location.
“Don’t step forward Calli!” I said. “Why?” asked Calli. “One second!” I responded. I ducked my head under the water and swam over to Calli. I pointed to Saelee, who was wearing a pair of goggles. “Here, Saelee, come over here,” I said beckoning her over to the hole. She hesitantly put her head in the water, the quickly resurfaced. “Wow! That’s deep!” she exclaimed. I handed Calli my mask then showed her the hole. “And you were right there,” I said pointing to the ledge. Calli laughed then handed me my mask back.
We swam for about twenty more minutes then came out, shivering despite the Florida heat. We wrapped ourselves in towels, changed into street clothes, quickly purchased snacks from the concession stand, then rushed back to the bus and prepared for the long drive back home. Looking back on that amazing field trip, I have to admit that it has been my favorite part of fifth grade.