An excursion, more commonly known as a "field trip" is a trip made by a group of students or research workers in order to study a particular academic topic,
My interest in field trips peaked this past semester when I was in the midst of taking a Mechanisms of Neurodegenerative Disease class in order to fulfill my Neuroscience major. We spent the semester learning about all of the biological mechanisms behind various neurodegenerative disorders, including Huntington's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) , and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The science behind the diseases fascinated me. It was shocking to see how minute malfunctions at such a microscopic level could escalate and manifest themselves as these truly devastating diseases. The material was interesting and engaging, yet it failed to take on a personal relevance until I went on an Alternative Spring Break Trip halfway through the semester. During the trip, we made a visit to an Alzheimer's Special Care Unit in which we had the opportunity to personally interact and speak with Alzheimer's patients. Suddenly I understood that Alzheimer's was so much more than a list of symptoms and malfunctioning neuronal mechanisms. The trip gave me the opportunity to truly see how the disease manifested itself in real people and how it affected them on a daily basis. When I returned from the Alternative Spring Break Trip and resumed the neuroscience class, the material suddenly meant a lot more to me. I was able to apply my scientific knowledge to real people and to real diseases. The experience made my in-class educational experience so much more meaningful, and has took on a deeper significance in my life. Since then, the neuroscience I learn in my classes means so much more to me, and has peaked my intrinsic motivation to learn more and to pursue a career in medicine. My goal through this website is to share my positive experience with others, so that they too have the opportunity to reap the benefits of field trips. Excursions ultimately allow students to assign a personal relevance to what they have learned in their classes, allowing them to have a more meaningful educational experience. Thus, I believe that excursions should be included in the syllabi for undergraduate and graduate classes. I hope to exert an influence through this petition!