St. Mary's An IB World School

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Field Studies


The World is Your Classroom

A student can read about the Italian Renaissance or watch a video about the ocean, but it does not have the same impact as seeing the sculptures and paintings in Italy or enjoying the marvels at an aquarium. Our unique Field Studies program integrates academic content areas into a realistic approach to learning beyond the classroom environment. Through one-day field trips or weeklong field studies, students experience learning among a natural setting, reinforcing the concepts taught in the classroom. This program offers distinctive opportunities for observation, research and interaction all within native settings. Field studies build responsible and cooperative learning that occurs in real world situations to provide academic enhancement while creating cultural awareness amidst historic and educational settings.

Grade 4: Sacramento, Californiagroup at the Gold Bug Mine

Students embark on a field study to Sacramento, our state Capital, to reinforce the IB unit of inquiry “How We Organize Ourselves.” The central idea looks into natural resources, boomtowns, the discovery of precious minerals and the effect on the area and the people.  Students visit the Capitol Building, Sutter’s Fort, the California State Railroad Museum, and other historic sites, including a chance to explore mines of the Mother Lode and the original gold discovery site in Coloma.

Sacramento Field Study - March 2018

Grade 5: Astro Camp in Idyllwild, California Kids in the pool building

Students spend three days at Astro Camp focusing on various astronomy and physical science including rocketry, rock climbing, microgravity snorkeling and many other team building activities.  The experience is designed to sharpen student interest in the scientific study of the universe, and directly connects with the IB Unit of Inquiry on Space and Exploration.

Astro Camp Field Study - November 2017

Grade 6: Catalina Environmental Leadership Program in Catalina Island, California   

Kids at Catalina

Each fall, St. Mary’s sixth grade students attend a four-day field study at Santa Catalina Island to close an IB Unit of Inquiry investigation into oceans. The journey to Howlands Landing with Catalina Environmental Leadership Program allows students opportunities for marine and terrestrial field research. Rich program offerings like marine snorkeling, kayaking, investigating tide pools, hiking, researching in a kelp lab, and composting help foster environmental stewardship, peer relationships, and self-confidence. 

Catalina Island Field Study - October 2017

Grade 7: Yosemite National Park grade 7 group photo in Yosemite

Students spend a week experiencing the dramatic landscapes of Yosemite National Park under the guidance of the Nature Bridge at Yosemite Program.  They explore the valley floor, wander through meadows, and challenge themselves to reach the tops of waterfalls.  In the process, connections are made across the curriculum including Life Science and Ecology, Cultural History, Literature, Current Environmental Issues, Art, and Physical Endurance. 

Yosemite Field Study - October 2017

Grade 8: Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington, D.C. kids on steps of Jefferson Memorial

Students explore the earliest roots of our nation as they follow a historic trail from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia to Washington, D.C. This trip presents a fascinating look at how America developed as a nation and ties into several units of inquiry as well as subject matter ranging from math to history to politics. 

Williamsburg & Washington DC Field Study - November 2017


Grades 6-8: Costa Rica kids in Costa Rica on bridge

The Costa Rica field study provides students with the irreplaceable opportunity to immerse themselves in the language and culture of this wonderful Spanish-speaking country. Students are exposed to biodynamic farming, ecology, history, culture and language through two unique educational and travel philosophies: the Story Approach and Expedition Mentality. They meet local leaders and visionaries such as Juan Sostheim, owner of Rancho Margot. Nestled between rain and cloud forests in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Rancho Margot offers outdoor classrooms where students feel inspired to treat their surroundings and those around them with respect. These beliefs and attitudes are later realized as students engage in authentic and meaningful service learning, positively affecting the lives of indigenous people in Costa Rica. All of this, while exploring and having in the background the vast rain forest and breathtaking beaches of one of the greenest countries in the world. 

Costa Rica Field Study - April 9-18, 2018

Grades 7-8: France kids in Paris in front of Monmarte

The France field study offers students a fun, enriching experience into the history and culture of France. Students embark on a journey throughout Paris’ famous landmarks: The Louvre, Champs Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the unforgettable ascending of the Eiffel Tower. A visit to The Chateau of Versailles and Monet’s gardens in Giverny are also part of the itinerary. A private, guided tour is taken throughout the beautiful landscapes of Burgundy, Dijon and the site of Alesia, the place where Julius Ceasar marched into France. Visits are made to a local vineyard then the French expedition extends to Nice on the Riviera, a perfume factory and a medieval village with a castle perched on the coast, and then the palace of Monaco. Students experience all the beauty France has to offer: the language, the picturesque scenery and the famous French cuisine, while walking in the footsteps of Louis XIV, Napoleon and Victor Hugo. C’est la vie! 

France Field Study - April 6-17, 2018

Grades 7-8: Hong Kong kids arriving at Hong Kong Airport

The Hong Kong field study is an amazing opportunity for students to use their language skills and be immersed in the Chinese culture. Hong Kong is a modern city with a unique blend of Chinese culture mixed with British influence. Some of the highlights of our private tour include riding a tram to Victoria Peak, visiting the largest Buddha at the Po Lin Monastery, learning about the history of Hong Kong, and tasting authentic dim sum. This field study serves as an extension of classroom learning. Students use their language skills to successfully order food and shop. But most importantly, students gain an appreciation for the Chinese culture while developing skills to become global citizens. 

Hong Kong Field Study is not included in this year's field study program. It will be available in the 2018-19 school year. 

Grades 7-8: Italian Exchange students in Venice in front of water

St. Mary’s partners with the International School of Milan (ISM) in Milan, Italy to provide an exchange program for our and their Middle School students. ISM, a Kindergarten-Grade 12 IB World School, is the largest international school in Italy and this dynamic exchange program helps students to develop internationally-minded attitudes, experience new perspectives, gain in-depth knowledge of Italian culture and people, and create friendships and memories that last a lifetime. This unique partnership offers St. Mary’s families the opportunity to host an international student in their homes where they help an ISM student learn about American culture. Students from St. Mary’s later journey to Milan, Italy to reconnect with ISM students, where they stay in host family homes. In addition to a week spent with host families, St. Mary’s students and chaperones also travel throughout Italy to delve further into Italian culture.
Grades 7-8 Italian Exchange - April 5-20, 2018

Grades 4-8: New York City Field Study 3 boys in Natural History Museum

Students accompanied by a parent chaperone travel to the Big Apple to experience multiple cultural venues including the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim Museum— where student take apart in a hands-on workshop relevant to current featured exhibitions— and the Metropolitan Museum of Art where students visit galleries that highlight IB units of inquiry. Performing arts experiences include a night at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, contemporary dance or traditional ballet as well as a Broadway show. Students also enjoy multicultural dining experiences, such as Sofrito, the Russian Tea Room, Café Un-Deux-Trois and Café Fierello. Travelers navigate the city on foot and by the subway and the bus systems.

 Grades 4-8 New York City - March 2018