2nd Grade Field Trip to Stanford University

Updated: Apr 29


This week, we talked about the tools used to measure time. Last Wednesday, we had a field trip to see a real clock tower at Stanford University. Although many of us were very familiar with the campus, we had never observed the clock tower from so closely.


Our first stop was the Hoover Tower. On the top of it, we were able to see the whole campus unfolded as a huge map. The students had two tasks while they exploring the view around: first, finding the Clock Tower; second, finding North according to the position of the sun. After five minutes of exploring, we gathered together to share our findings. All of us saw the Clock Tower from the first window next to the elevator. Some students were able to connect the learning about the sun and earth’s axis to the task of finding North. And this round of discussion made the learning about changing seasons more vivid to our second graders.


Getting down from the Hoover Tower, we sat down and checked our field trip route on the map. Then we moved to our next stop, the Art Gallery. We played a game where we counted seconds in our heads and compared our counting with an interactive timer. When the lights on the timer illuminated, indicating that 30 seconds had passed. We were able to really experience the length and passage of time.


Finally, we arrived the Clock Tower. Students were immediately fascinated by the complex inner gears and machinery of the clock. We carried out three activities here. First, we looked for three kinds of parts in the clock: long, round, and heavy. The springs and strings were long; the gears were round; and the chime was heavy. We predicted which part would move when the bells rang. And we saw it ringing twice! Second, we copied the Roman numerals from the clock face to our worksheet and tried to summarize the system and translate it to Arabic numerals. Some students shared their findings and related them to the chapter from our class books that had also used Roman numerals. Third, we used our arms to act out the time and took a photo of the moment with our friends at the Clock Tower.

When we came back and reviewed the tools used to measure time, many of us asked more questions about the designs of these tools. The class made an inquiry to the work of the chime. They wanted to set up a chime in our classroom so we could test out how the length and weight of the pendulum affect how long it takes for the pendulum to swing once.

This field trip successfully connected in-class learning to the off-site resources and enhanced students’ interest toward this topic. We would like to say thank you to our parent volunteer, Lea, for accompanying us through the field trip.

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